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Growing Kindness Project

Have you ever been given a bouquet of flowers? Last month I had the opportunity to give away a lot of flowers.

About a year ago, an Instagram account came on my radar called Twig and Vine Flower Farm (@twigandvine). The woman who owns the account, Deanna Kitchen, had such a kind demeanor and generosity about her that I began following her journey. Soon after, I became aware of her other account called the Growing Kindness Project (@growingkindnessproject) and started watching that feed too. The idea behind the Growing Kindness Project is that flowers are a catalyst to kindness. She urges people to grow flowers and give them away. On top of that, she generously shares details about how to grow and care for cut flowers, how to arrange them, and how to get the longest vase life out of those beauties. 
In January of 2020, I signed up as a Gardener for the project. It was free and gave me access to different print materials like bouquet tags as well as printable guides to growing a thriving cut flower garden. It was simple but made my garden plans for this year more intentional. I love growing flowers, and after signing up, I decided to grow more. Then Covid-19 happened. Life entered a whirlwind. My simple cut flower garden began to mean more. Throughout the summer, I have made bouquets to take with me and gift to different people I do see. Trips to the chiropractor included flowers. Neighbors out on walks received flowers. It was my way of saying, I see you, and I appreciate you. 
Last month, while doing volunteer work at the Youth Garden at Raab Park in Poulsbo, WA, I picked a simple bouquet made of herbs and red dahlias to take with me. I made it without knowing who it was meant for, but I felt called to find someone. As I got close to home, I decided to stop by the Assisted Living Apartments in Kingston. The building manager inside was all smiles (behind his mask) when I shared the bouquet. He was even more excited when I asked if I could bring more. He said the residents would love this gesture and offered his full support.  I then reached out to another Growing Kindness Project member, and we agreed to make it happen together. Ginger (@boumafarmstead) agreed to provide flowers if I would bring foliage for the bouquets. No problem!
On the day of the event, I got up early to harvest stems. I cut blooming oregano, purple heuchera leaves, sage, sedum, and lavender, to name a few, from my garden. I then went to Raab Park to do a few garden tasks, and while I was there, harvested hops vines, sprigs of rosemary, more sage, and sedum. I loaded up my buckets of beautiful foliage and headed for Ginger's farm. She and I have been connected on Instagram for a while but hadn't met in person until that day. 
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It was awesome! We spent two hours connecting and getting to know each other while arranging nineteen of the most beautiful dahlia bouquets. We worked outside under the shade of trees, and her sweet nine-week-old puppy, Eddie, played nearby. I caught myself looking over at Ginger's bouquets, completely in awe at how beautiful and different they were from my own. Working alongside another creative person is such a treat because it pushes me to expand what I try. At the end of our time, we took a bunch of pictures and made hopeful plans for future fun together. I really look forward to those happening. Next, it was off to Kingston.
I couldn't stop smiling as I walked armload after armload of flowers into the building's lobby. Two women were sitting on a second-story balcony. As I approached, they gushed over the beautiful flowers. "Would you like one? I have nineteen bouquets with me, and they're for anyone who wants one." I said. 
One lady eagerly responded, "Really?! I'll be right down!"
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Another woman was admiring the table, covered in beauty, and asked what we had used in the arrangements. As I pointed out the different ingredients, her attention paused on the hops vines. She began telling me a story about trips she used to take to a horse ranch in Montana. She described loping over the hillside and streams. 
There were a few other beautiful people I met that day. Each of them had a bouquet inspired story they were excited to share, and it completely overwhelmed my heart. It was an absolute blessing that this project gave voice to my desire to engage with my community; to let people know that they are valued and appreciated. We all need that right now. 
I share this story with all of you to hopefully encourage you to reach out in whatever way you can. If you would like to get involved with the Growing Kindness Project, visit www.growingkindnessproject.org for more info.

Carilyn Mae

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