I recently had a most delightful phone call. A young man found my website and called to ask about community garden plots as a holiday gift for his mother. He was in from out-of-town and wondered if I could help him.
His mother, it seems, had suffered some financial setbacks and no longer had access to the fresh fruits and vegetables she’d once had. He and his sister had discussed it and decided that for Christmas, they’d like to get her a community garden plot. They’d also thought about giving her a subscription to community supported agriculture (CSA), but a community garden would get her out and socializing as well.
The question was, he said, she’s in her mid 60s and most of the community gardens he’d found so far looked to be tended by 20 and 30-somethings. Did I know of a garden that would offer her more contact with her peer group?
The young man and I talked for a while. Did she know how to garden? Yes. She’d once had space for a vegetable garden but doesn’t now.
Had he asked whether she’d prefer a CSA membership or a community garden plot? No, they were thinking it would be a surprise. They had no idea whether she would rather garden or prefer to pick up produce ready to go, or both.
Community garden plots are usually inexpensive, I told him, and CSA membership costs more overall, but costs less than buying that same produce at the supermarket.
On the issue of community gardens, its important to know his mother’s priorities. While the young man and his sister may think that a place with people her age may be most important, she may be more concerned about location. A community garden nearby could trump a garden plot 20 or 30 minutes away, even if the gardeners were her age. In fact, she may enjoy being in a mixed generation garden.
Hmmm… they hadn’t though of that.
By the end of our discussion, it was clear that the siblings’ first step was to talk with their mother. I suggested they find a nice card or design a coupon that listed her gift options. If they use that as a starting point for a discussion, they may discover she has criteria they aren’t even aware of.
What most touched me, though, was the way they approached their gift giving. In an era where we often feel pressured to buy a gift – any gift – here were two adult children thinking about what their mother could use the most: fresh food, physical activity, social interaction. Even if none of it comes to pass, it is a lovely, lovely thought.
And one I may suggest one day when my almost adult-children ask me what I’d like as a gift.