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May 21, 2010
Veggie frenzy
Jessie Atchison  Burpee Home Gardens Brand Manager, 2008-2010

Wow! Chicagoans sure are excited about the vegetable-planting season! As soon as our Burpee Home Gardens Team rolled the 6 filled racks of vegetable carts down Madison Street, eager city commuters were happily grabbing varieties to plant in their own gardens. Who showed up to receive their plants? Well, we had veteran gardeners and novice ones. Friends helping others pick plants. Newbie homeowners ready and willing to dig in and get started on growing their own plot of veggies. It was thrilling and inspirational to see their excitement for this year's planting season!

What started all this veggie frenzy? Our team was looking for a way to encourage our Chicago neighbors to Get Gardening. With the frost-free dates passed and warmer weather on its way, it's the perfect time to plant Burpee Home Gardens varieties, and we were willing to give nearly 2,000 plants away to show it's fun and rewarding to share the joys of gardening. With logistics in place (and a little rain reprieve from Mother Nature), we got ready to hand out plants to downtown commuters at Riverside Plaza in Chicago. Within the hour they all were gone, and we rolled 6 empty racks back to our delivery truck. Amazing!

I can't help wondering and dreaming about where all those plants will travel to this weekend. Maybe they'll be shared with a co-worker as they arrived in one of the surrounding skyscrapers. Perhaps later today someone will show their children the vegetable plant they received in the city and a suburban backyard will be transformed. Or maybe this weekend, that one gentleman who was on the fence about starting a tomato container on his balcony this year will be feeling the inspiring high of the other gardeners' enthusiasm and he’ll buy soil from his local garden center and pick up a few more varieties to try. The possibility of 2,000 plants seems endless, doesn’t it?

When we started thinking about this giveaway, we weren't sure what to expect. Potted plants and suited-up business folk doesn't seem like a good match. But we were thrilled to be proven wrong! Gardening is universal, if today's minor experiment is any indication. Young, old; women, men; suit or denim - the plants were an equalizer.

I asked several recipients why they garden, and their responses were right in line with our theory behind "I Can Grow". Some said they liked to share their harvests and garden recipes with friends. Some were supplementing food bills. Others liked the time it afforded them with their children. And still others were psyched to be doing something "green". Whatever their reason, they're looking forward to the coming months. The lucky hundreds we saw today don't know it, but by taking a plant home today they've become a part of something bigger than themselves, and they'll harvest rewards sooner than they think.

Want to see more photos from today’s Burpee Home Gardens Giveaway? Check out our Facebook page photo album!

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