Program Offers Budget Savvy Gardeners Free Trees and Plants Shipping Fees Benefit Workers with Disabilities Who Package Plants

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Free Trees and Plants.com, started in February, 2004, obtains from growers and nurseries some of the millions of unsold plants that are destroyed each year, hires workers with disabilities to package them and then sends the plants for free to anyone who orders them at http://www.freetreesandplants.com. Consumers simply pay for processing and shipping costs, $7.95 for each unit of plants.

We have worked with sheltered workshops on other projects in the past and the program quickly took shape. We are believers in direct action and social responsibility, and we do not ask for or accept donations. Our program does not seek charitable designation.

There is such a thing as a free bunch - of flowers, trees and shrubs - thanks to a one-of-a-kind program that benefits gardeners, sheltered workshops and the environment.

Free Trees and Plants.com, started in February, 2004, obtains from growers and nurseries some of the millions of unsold plants that are destroyed each year, hires workers with disabilities to package them and then sends the plants for free to anyone who orders them at http://www.freetreesandplants.com. Consumers simply pay for processing and shipping costs, $7.95 for each unit of plants.

"With the spring planting season fast approaching, we're thrilled to add a number of perennial plugs to our ever growing collection of trees, shrubs and plants. Gardeners from across the country may reserve any of the more than ninety varieties of perennials, shrubs and trees featured this spring," said Cheryl Richter, a garden writer and photographer who created the program with her husband, Greg, in their hometown of Lincoln, Neb.

The Richters' industry contacts advise them of plants that have not been sold and are scheduled for destruction. They then obtain the plants at little or no cost and arrange for delivery to sheltered workshops that provide employment for workers with disabilities. The workers process and package the items for shipment. "Every plant we save and select for our program is as good as, or better than, those featured in garden centers and renowned garden catalogs," said Cheryl.

A visit to the Web site reveals a bounty of offerings, including evergreen, flowering and shade trees, perennials such as columbine, fountain grass, and hostas, shrubs that range from viburnum to mock orange.

"Everything shown has been selected as an easy-to-grow gardening or landscaping favorite," added Greg Richter.    

"Our concept began when we recognized that there is a terrible waste of living things when unsold plants are thrown away," Greg said. "We have worked with sheltered workshops on other projects in the past and the program quickly took shape. We are believers in direct action and social responsibility, and we do not ask for or accept donations. Our program does not seek charitable designation."

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DEBRA ERSCH
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