DOWNTOWN — Don't want to care for that potted perennial you got as a housewarming gift?
Don't dump it in the trash.
Chicago Plant Rescue team members will come to your home and pick up your unwanted plants — for free — and then replant them at a multitude of community gardens or schools around the city. It's primarily looking for donations from businesses with seasonal plantings and landscape companies who donate many plants at a time.
"Our mission is to reduce waste, improve the urban landscape and support community endeavors that are part of Chicago," said Jamie Gentry, an Andersonville resident and founding group member.
Chicago Plant Rescue started in 2015 and Gentry said last year it saved more than 2,000 plants — mostly nonedible perennials — from the waste basket.
The organization, which has members living in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Humboldt Park and other neighborhoods, had its annual meeting Sunday and plans to help rescue even more plants in 2017.
Like two of the other members, Lindsey Telford and Jessie King, Gentry graduated from Kansas State University. Gentry grew up in Beloit, Kan. — population 3,846 — and wanted to bring some of her Kansas roots to the big city. Chicago Plant Rescue has helped her do that, she said.
"The biggest adjustment for me coming to the city was having less green space," Gentry said. "I grew up doing a lot of gardening, and coming here it was important for me to figure out how to incorporate that into my life."
Telford hatched the group after seeing some perfectly good plants being tossed from a River North patio.
"I was really upset by it," said Telford, of Lincoln Park. "Besides having monetary value, plants provide value to communities by way of establishing local habitats and ecosystems, improving air quality and creating an asset of public space. I thought there must be someone or some group in the city who would see the value in these plants and could give them 'forever homes' to live and grow. ... In our eyes, redistributing as few as 20 plants in a growing season is a successful improvement to the environment."
Chicagoans can schedule a pickup by clicking here. Gentry said members usually pick up the plants about once a week.
The plants are then brought to community gardens and schools all over Chicago, including several on the South and West sides like South Merrill Community Garden, Gardeeners-Urban Prep Englewood High School, Mozart Community Garden, El Coqui Community Garden and Semilla de Justicia. Many of those gardens are a part of NeighborSpace, a nonprofit that creates and sustains urban gardens for Chicago community groups.
She said individuals can also donate gardening landscaping supplies like limestones. Hundreds of pounds of pennies donated from the coins thrown into a Lurie Garden fountain also helped Chicago Plant Rescue build a greenhouse this winter. The group saved two Ficus trees from the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, finding homes for the trees at schools in Englewood and Rogers Park.
"We complement the work other well-founded gardening operations are doing," Gentry said.
For more information on Chicago Plant Rescue, click here.
About 700 lbs of pennies generously donated from @luriegarden Pennies for Plants 🙌❤️ . . . #penniesforplants #casaverde #luriegarden #plantalones #2017 #plantlover #chitown #chicago #greenhouse #pennies #communitygarden #chicagogarden #chilandscape #milleniumpark #changeforchange #perennial #horticulture
New flashing + finally installed a polycarb lintel over the door + the little black box at the top is for solar-powered LEDs -- #casaverde #plantalones #greenhouse #greenthumb #designbuild #womeningreen #womeninarchitecture #chicago #chiarchitecture #offthegrid #solar #january #communitygarden #plantrescue #plantlover #gardening #chicagogarden
CPR team with Scott from @luriegarden who has been an invaluable mentor and friend in our first year of operation! Happy New Year! . . . #penniesforplants #casaverde #luriegarden #plantalones #2017 #plantlover #chitown #chicago #greenhouse #pennies #communitygarden #chicagogarden #chilandscape #milleniumpark #changeforchange #perennial #horticulture #newyear
Cold, but lovely meeting with South Merrill Community Garden folks to sketch out ideas for their new cooking pavilion! @tsadakeeyah #southmerrillcommunitygarden #southshorechicago #thisissouthshore #communitygarden #cookingpavilion #urbanfarm #urbanag #growyourown #slowfood #neighborspace #designbuild #chicago #chicagogarden