RIDING FOR THE DISABLED PLANT SALE VOLUNTEERS
Always keen on horses, Bev Philpott had volunteered with Whangarei’s Riding for the Disabled for years, and seen the difference the charity made in the lives of people with whom it worked.
“When you are working in the arena with the clients you see very quickly how the therapy transforms their lives,” she says. “I was lucky enough to experience that.”
So when a knee injury meant she could no longer help with the horses, she still wanted to support the work the charity did. “Because I knew that it works.” With no government funding, the Whangarei branch of RDA relies on donations, grants and sponsorship. And with an annual operating budget of $250,000, the staff and volunteers were always keen to think of a new way to raise extra funds. In 2015 the then-manager suggested there might be a bit of money to be made raising and selling plants, and Bev put her hand up to coordinate a plant stall.
To begin with, Bev worked by herself, but was soon joined by fellow volunteer Rosemary Pegler. Rosemary, who had a background in the nursery trade, suggested she recruit home propagators to produce more plants for sale.
Bev now works with around 12 other volunteers who either propagate at home, or work together at the on-site Whangarei RDA nursery to grow plants for the stall (which is open Monday until Thursday in term time between 9am and 3pm).
What’s on sale can be eclectic, Bev admits, since the stock is cuttings or divisions taken from what volunteers have in their own gardens (or the gardens of amenable friends or family). But there’s usually perennials, subtropicals, ferns, palms, succulents, bromeliads and aquatic plants. And since many volunteers are also keen gardeners, there’s often plants that are hard or even impossible to buy from a commercial nursery.
She doesn’t know exactly how many plants the volunteers have grown, Bev says, but 4000 nursery labels are donated annually “and we always run out”. And so far the stall has raised more than $17,000.
“And our plants are sold for between $2 and $10,” Bev says. “The average price is about $5. So that’s a lot of plants.”