I have always thought it odd that the garden media acts as if gardeners–those who work in gardens for a living–don’t exist. Why not talk to the workers? Why not make them part of the discussion?
In that spirit, I offer this: The Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, profiled in this San Francisco Chronicle article. The foundation was started by an immigrant named Catalino Tapia who came to the US when he was 20, and worked as a baker and a machine operator before starting a gardening business. He and his wife did what I couldn’t figure out how to do–they became homeowners in the overpriced Bay Area, and then put their kids through college. After watching his son graduate from Berkeley’s prestigious Boalt Hall School of Law, Tapia decided he wanted to organize immigrant gardeners to give scholarships to other kids in need. This year, they gave out 9 scholarships of $1500. And there’s no citizenship requirement.
How do they raise the money? From local businesses and clients. Some of their wealthy gardening clients were so impressed that they hosted cocktail parties as fundraisers. Tapia even asked neighborhood kids to write the thank-you notes, because he thought his own penmanship wouldn’t be good enough.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation had never heard of a scholarship fund started by gardeners, but had this to say about the idea of philanthropy coming from low-paid, immigrant workers rather than society types:
"In fact, taking tamales to
the church potluck or reading in the classroom – all those little acts
are philanthropic," said Santamaría. "Philanthropy means love of
humankind. We’ve got to spin a much better view of what immigrants are
contributing. … And Catalino is taking it to a different level."
Rock on, Gardeners Foundation. And if you feel compelled to contribute:
Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, P.O. Box 3446, Redwood City, CA 94064