This year, I am helping to put together some activities for our ladies group at church called the Relief Society. The Relief Society started in 1842, 174 years ago. It was organized for the women of the church to give "relief [to] the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes.” What started out as only 20 women in the first Relief Society organization, there are now over 5 and a half million women in 170 countries that are apart of the Relief Society.
My focus for this year has been on self-reliance and how we as women in our homes, family, church and community can become more self-reliant. Julie B. Beck once said, "We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being."
One of our focuses for helping the ladies in our church and community was to focus on gardening. One of my committee members, Marissa, was a tremendous help. As we began to discuss and plan for a "Gardening Class," ideas and thoughts flowed freely. We decided to attack it with a focus on everyone building their own "Salsa Garden." This is what our flyers looked like.
Here's Marissa's story about her experience planning and preparing for our activity. She said,
"Gary & Janna from Scotts (The Miracle Gro Company), Joe from Bonnie Plants and Robert Simmons saved our project… When Salsa Gardening was decided on, we were excited. That excitement began to melt when we realized how expensive it would be to purchase supplies for 30-35 women. We didn’t want this to be just another “How To” gardening class where you walk away with some paper hand outs that are lost or recycled in a day or two. Our hope was for the ladies to have something in hand to care for. We felt it needed to be something to encourage our dedication to greater self-reliance and better physical health.
The committee began to make phone calls, stops at nurseries and on-line inquiries. THEN…about one month before our class, my husband and I were out running errands. As we were driving he said, “There is a Home Depot, do you want to stop in there just to look?” I was feeling discouraged and told him it wasn’t necessary because it was going to be as expensive as anywhere else. He insisted, I agreed and we stopped. A kind Home Depot employees tried to answer my questions about plants, soils and other supplies. “You know what?” the employee said, “THE Scotts guy is here. Do you want to talk to him? He will answer all your questions”. I was reluctant to say yes, feeling that I would be inconveniencing “THE” Scotts Guy but thought the poor Home Depot employee probably needed a break from me.
Gary Felix (an AZ Manager for Scotts, Miracle-Gro Company
) came to my rescue. He patiently answered my questions. He opened bags of soil and explained which products would be best for me. As we chatted I felt that I MUST tell him more about our project. I wanted to ignore that impression but again something said, “Tell him more”. We talked about the Salsa Garden idea and the hope to expand it to a community level. This is when he offered to help. He thought that Scotts may be able to help with a donation and if Scotts couldn’t, he wanted to make a personal donation to our project. “What an incredible gesture of kindness and generosity!”, I thought. I walked into the store feeling discourage but walked out with renewed hope and vision.
After that encounter, communication with all those I had reached out to, slowed, stopped or became a bit complicated. I think the Lord was testing our faith because up until a few days before the class we were unsure we would receive any donations. One of the people I contacted was Robert “Rob” Simmons. He has a love and background in horticulture but an even bigger love for service and a heart of gold! With money being an issue and no deﬁnite answers on donations, the committee had to go back to the drawing board. We brainstormed and reduced our project to seeds and egg cartons. It was what we HAD to do. The nagging feeling to make this bigger remained. We resolved that we would not scrap the community gardening idea but we would need to put it on hold. A couple days before the class, Gary and I reconnected and I heard back from Rob Simmons!
After a few more E-mails, text messages and phone calls, Scotts Company
and Bonnie Plants
GENEROUSLY donated about 200 plants & multiple bags of beautiful Nature’s Care organic soil. WOW! I met with Gary, Janna and Joe at Home Depot to pick up the plants and soil donations. This group of gems were a wealth of knowledge with great life histories. I had a wonderful time listening to their stories and laughing with them all. Rob Simmons made a personal donation of 140 starter plants, pots and some soil. We were overcome with appreciation and humility knowing that there are kindhearted people willing to help our community. The researching, praying, digging, weeding and watering is paying off!
Personally, I have made many salsas, sauces and salads. I have been able to share the beautiful bounty with multiple neighbors and friends and have eaten from the garden daily. It has saved me countless trips to the grocery store and how fabulous is it to have fresh veggies and herbs just outside my back door! I look forward to increasing and expanding my knowledge and our gardens. I can see this developing into an even larger scale project with immeasurable beneﬁts to our community. I will always be grateful to those who assisted in getting this pilot project up and running. Their goodness and generosity will be remembered."
"Thank you Scotts for our cool hats," said M&M (Marissa and Melia).
Ezra Taft Benson said, “An almost forgotten means of economic self-reliance is the home production of food. We are too accustomed to going to stores and purchasing what we need. By producing some of our food we reduce, to a great extent, the impact of inflation on our money. More importantly, we learn how to produce our own food and involve all family members in a beneficial project.”
Stay tuned for where, what and how we planted our Salsa Gardens. Make sure to subscribe to our website!