by Jane Solomon
I love connecting people who want to do good things — it’s so gratifying when it actually works. A little plan hatched in my backyard less than two months ago is ready to take flight.
On February 16th and 17th (and again on the same dates in March), American Plant Nursery will accept donations of used garden tools and supplies to benefit Community Forklift, the non-profit re-use warehouse in greater Hyattsville. Community Forklift will pick up any difficult-to-move items and John Shorb Landscaping will provide a convenient drop-off location in Northwest DC for anyone who can’t make the trip to the nursery — a truck parked in front of my house! In appreciation, donors will receive a 10% discount coupon for American Plant.
Community Forklift sells salvaged and surplus building materials, architectural pieces, appliances, hardware and gardening items and tools. My husband Daniel and I were early supporters and helped to get it up and running. When we began a renovation of our house in 2005, we had it “deconstructed” and all our salvaged materials became part of Forklift’s inventory when it first opened its doors. Community Forklift sells its goods at very low cost out of a huge warehouse, and also distributes free materials to civic groups and families in need.
Dozens of school and community gardens have benefited from gifts of tools and other materials put to creative new uses. Some of the items we collect during the upcoming tool drive will be re-donated to these urban gardeners and others will be sold at Forklift’s spring tool sale, one of its most popular and biggest fund-raising events each year.
Two years ago, Alex McCarty sold her landscape business to John Shorb Landscaping when it became too much “business” and not enough “landscape” for her taste. She then went to work for Shorb overseeing maintenance crews. Shorb has been maintaining our property for more than a decade and has always done a great job. But it got even better and a lot more fun for me when Alex showed up. Like me, she measures happiness by how much dirt she needs to wash off at the end of the day. She doesn’t get the opportunity in her McLean Gardens apartment, so she scratches that itch daily on the job. She has boundless energy, is full of ideas and is driven by her passion for gardening, environmental and community work.
In December Alex and I were pondering a huge red oak that had fallen into the alley from the rear of my garden during Hurricane Sandy. I had asked DC’s Urban Forestry not to remove it because I knew a woodworker who would love this easy-to-access, 40-foot long, 36-inch diameter tree with a perfectly straight trunk. Marcus Sims is a woodworker and sculptor whose business, Treincarnation, is located at Community Forklift. When I mentioned Community Forklift, Alex’s face lit up, “I love their tool sales and I have a great idea for them!”
Indeed she did. To bring in more gardening tools, Community Forklift needed to promote the tool drive where gardeners go — the nursery. In early January I introduced Alex to Nancy Meyer, the Executive Director of Forklift. We had to move fast if we were going to get something done in time for the big tool sale on March 23rd. Alex first pitched her boss, who was very supportive, and then went to the management of American Plant. They loved it and offered the 10% coupon incentive. Win, win, win. Not surprisingly, Alex’s job is expanding more into community outreach and client development. John Shorb has always invested in his staff and no doubt he realized that if you give someone like Alex room to spread her wings, everyone is going to benefit.