Building Good Gardeners and Good Characters

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Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village” and I’ve seen the truth of that in my own children. Just this Spring, Redway Feed donated pots and plants to Salmon Creek School for the kids to plant and raise both for learning purposes and for entering in the wonderful local Weott Garden Show. The kids, including my own son, were delighted with the recognition their efforts at gardening received.

But I was even more delighted with the results. My little guy carefully hoarded his 5 dollar first prize. “Can I buy that, Mom? Or what about this?” He delighted in savoring his treasure and the possibilities. He even worked here and there for a quarter or two to add to his savings.

One day this June, we watched (somewhat horrified and somewhat excited, I’m afraid) a house burn in Garberville. The owner’s young son had been collecting Bionicles for many years and when the house burnt down, his collection was destroyed. Malachi’s heart went out to this boy. “Every one of his Bionicles?” he asked in dismay eyeing his own loose collection of Bionicle helmets and body parts (unlike the other boy, his Bionicles never stay together.) (See the story and find out how to make donations here.)

He came to me later with his precious five dollar bill held tenderly on his palm. “Mom, will this buy a Bionicle?”

“Almost,” I replied. “You’ll need to earn a couple more bucks.” I smiled thinking he was planning on adding a new toy to his somewhat scattered collection. I was proud of him learning to plan ahead to get what he needed. But then he explained that he wanted to give them to “that other kid who likes Bionicles but they all burnt up.” I quietly agreed to match his gift to the boy with one of my own.

He worked an hour a day for the next two days–putting away tools, hauling off weeds in the garden etc. Then with his two new dollars and his garden money, he bought the Bionicle. I kept waiting for him to ask to play with it or even to keep it but he never did even though it took us two weeks to get the Bioncles and the donation to town.

Recently, I thanked Tommy Harwood, the new owner at Redway Feed for another donation he was making for still another fundraiser. He passed it off as no big deal and even said how thrilled the kid’s cards and letters thanking him for the earlier plant and pot donation had made him, “And,” he added looking touched, “[one of the other parents] told me I had made gardeners for life.”

Yep, I agree. he made gardeners for life. My little guy still waters his plant (whenever he remembers) and excitedly drags me out to see the new blooms.

More importantly though, Tommy Harwood from Redway Feed and the volunteers at Weott Gardening show began a cycle of giving that my son has learned to emulate.

Small town businesses may start out to build good will and end up building both gardeners and good characters.



  • Wow, Kym. That got me teared up. A fine story.

  • That sounds exactly like something I would expect Malachi to do. I’m proud of that boy!

  • That’s a great story. How wonderful your young man has learned the value and rewards of sharing.

  • clearly, he has a good heart.

  • I am the little boy that had his Bionicles burn up. I really appreciate what your son did for me. I have been collecting Bionicles mostly all my life,and I had just about every kind. One of the Bionicles that your son sent me,the Biraki,I have always been wanting,and the other one I needed for my collection. Your son is very nice. There is going to be a baseball benefit form me and my dad at the Redway Little League Field on August 9. I would like it if you and your son would come so I could meet him and play ball with him.

  • Raven, We are going to be at a family reunion on August 9th and won’t be able to come to your benefit. I will tell Malachi that you liked his gift though. And thank you for saying thank you. You will make him very happy that you liked the Biraki especially (so did he.)

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