At Pinetree Garden Seeds, we know that making non-GMO, hybrid, organic, and heirloom seeds super-affordable doesn’t always make them accessible. That’s why we give away thousands—that’s right!—thousands of our exceptional, high-quality seeds and seedlings to deserving organizations here in our home state of Maine and across the country each year. Over our 40-year history, that adds up to millions of magical seeds that are making a difference for so many people. And what have those seeds grown into? Read on to find out!
Flourishing Community Gardens
Community gardens are near and dear to our hearts and we help community gardeners all across the country plant their plots with a rich variety of produce and flowers. (We also encourage the community garden movement to grow—check out our Six Simple Steps to Starting a Community Garden to see if you might be ready to start your own!) Community gardens create stronger social networks, higher property values, greater food security, and healthier children and families, and we take great pride in seeding these efforts all across the nation. You will find Pinetree Garden Seeds growing in community gardens in Maine, Vermont, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Did you know that more than 12 million schoolchildren in the U.S. are food insecure? (That’s one in five children in our home state of Maine.) Their families cannot always provide them with nourishing, filling meals throughout the day. Discounted lunches can help children stay full and focused during a day of learning but they may not always provide enough nutrition or calories to make up for what a child isn’t getting at home. School gardens help fill the gap. And they do more than provide fresh, low-cost produce for cafeteria menus. School gardens are fun, hands-on learning opportunities that teach key concepts in biology, ecology, and nutrition, raise environmental awareness, encourage both teamwork and self-sufficiency, provide opportunities to cook and compost, and much more. Pinetree Garden Seeds has supported home gardeners for generations, and through our seed donation program to school gardens, we are helping to raise many more. You will find children and their teachers planting our organic heirloom seeds in Connecticut, West Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, and Minnesota.
Did you know that there is a vibrant movement of prison gardens that is taking root around the world? I’m sure we’ve all heard unkind references to “prison food.” You may not have heard that many progressive penitentiaries are now implementing gardening programs for inmates, changing the way we think about prison food and changing prisoners’ lives. The physical and psychological benefits of gardening are particularly helpful and meaningful for the incarcerated: access to the natural world, the chance to learn satisfying and marketable skills, opportunities to collaborate and form a community, and the satisfaction of producing delicious, nutritious food themselves. People serving time are building raised garden beds, filling them with soil, and starting Pinetree Garden Seeds. We like to think it is also a chance for personal growth as well.
Church and Nonprofit Gardens
Many churches, nonprofit hospitals, and senior centers, and community outreach organizations use gardening as a way to grow food and awareness of their services or their causes. Pinetree Garden Seeds is so glad to help! One of our favorite nonprofit gardens can be found on the grounds of St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, Maine, close to our headquarters. Their community garden program, Lots to Garden, identifies vacant neighborhood lots around the city and helps to transform them into vibrant growing spaces by providing tools, gardening advice, and seeds. Just last year, Pinetree Garden Seeds donated one thousand pounds of potatoes, blueberries, and raspberries to this wonderful initiative. Hundreds of households in this diverse and economically challenged city are sustaining and nourishing themselves through these community gardens and we are thrilled to play a part in its success.
Food insecurity is a growing problem nationwide, not just in schools, but in entire communities. Food banks are essential community bulwarks against hunger that can be lifelines for new immigrants, the ill or incapacitated, people who have lost their jobs, single parents, the homeless, and more. In a state like Maine where the winters are long and the growing season is short, food banks need shelf-stable food supplies more than seeds. Last year, Pinetree Garden Seeds donated a portion of our Black Friday Sales to the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine to help them stock the shelves with free, nutritious foods for our struggling friends and neighbors. We call it “Giving Back Friday,” and everyone on our team feels great about using those funds to feed people in need.
One of the most rewarding seed donations Pinetree Garden Seeds has made recently was … for the birds! The Maine Wildlife Park in our hometown of Gray, Maine, shelters and tends injured or abandoned wild animals who cannot be returned to their natural habitat. This wildlife sanctuary is a wonderful place for families to see wild creatures like moose, bobcat, bears, owls, and eagles up close. It is also a safe environment for a wide range of beautiful songbirds: chickadees, wrens, finches, robins, thrushes, sparrows, juncos, warblers, and more. Pinetree Garden Seeds regularly donates older, low-termination or expired seeds to the Maine Wildlife Park as food for these winged wonders.
We want absolutely everyone to experience the joys of gardening: the satisfaction of self-sufficiency and hard work, the transformation from seed to harvest, an abundance of fresh flavors and vibrant colors. All across America, good things are growing—and we are so proud to have played a part in planting those seeds.