Tech Startup Collaborates with Goodwill Industries to Manufacture Interactive Plant Tags

Share Article and Goodwill Industries help workers learn new skills while building the Web's largest community of gardeners, horticulturalists and plant lovers.

Bill Blevins and Donnie Tolson at Rappahannock Goodwill's Bill Blevins (left) and Rappahannock Goodwill's Donnie Tolson finalize the agreement to bring PlantsMap into Goodwill's Collaboration Zone.

"It's a win-win. Social good, job creation and connecting more people with plants.", a social network and library of plant information contributed by universities, businesses, and plant enthusiasts, has teamed up with Rappahannock Goodwill Industries on an innovative workforce development initiative.

Workers in Rappahannock Goodwill’s job skills training program will receive training from Plants Map staff, and by the start of 2016 will handle all aspects of the manufacturing and shipping of Plants Map’s durable horticultural signs and tags. These tags display a QR code allowing anyone with a smartphone to access that plant’s unique Web page on They are the tools that connect plants in the ground with the rich array of plant information and community on

Rappahannock Goodwill has brought into its Collaboration Zone, a unique area of its new headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va., that brings Goodwill workers together with groups from around the community who can help further Goodwill’s mission of providing job training to individuals with barriers to employment, particularly those with disabilities.

Rappahannock Goodwill’s collaboration with tech startup Plants Map gives its workers an opportunity to gain new technical skills and be part of a fast-growing business. These workers will learn to operate a state-of-the-art laser engraver that etches the aluminum tags, which are made of the same materials used to label aircraft parts and made to withstand extreme conditions. They will also handle the inventory, packaging and shipping of these signs and tags.

“Rappahannock Goodwill is excited about our relationship with Plants Map,” said Chief Financial Officer Donnie Tolson, who will serve as Rappahannock Goodwill’s chief executive officer starting in January 2016. “We are always looking to serve businesses with staffing needs. Goodwill can provide a workforce of motivated individuals with disabilities or other barriers to employment. With Plants Map in our Collaboration Zone, they can get to know the workforce we offer and we can better understand their labor needs.”

This collaboration will allow Plants Map to increase the number of horticultural tags it makes for its growing community of plant enthusiasts and professionals, which in one year has grown to more than 1,000 universities, businesses, individuals, schools, plant societies, garden clubs and similar groups.

“Almost everyone I talk to about Plants Map has plant photos on their phone, or a story about plants or a gardening project that has had a real impact on their community. Our interactive tags connect people with those really cool stories,” said Plants Map co-founder and CEO Bill Blevins. “Collaborating with Rappahannock Goodwill to produce them gives us the ability to scale our manufacturing process. We provide training on our computers and laser engravers and they provide the workforce. It's a win-win. Social good, job creation and connecting more people with plants.”

About Plants Map is a community for anyone interested in plants, gardens and green spaces. The mobile-friendly website allows individuals and organizations to create and manage digital plant journals and botanical collections with photos, plant details, notes and maps. Plants Map also produces interactive, affordable and durable horticultural tags that allow gardeners to label their plants and display a QR code that anybody with a smartphone can scan to connect with that plant’s profile. Founded in Spotsylvania, Va., in 2014, hosts more than 1,000 profiles for universities, businesses, individuals, schools, plant societies and garden clubs and more than 50,000 plant stories. As the premier community for plant enthusiasts on the Web, every day is Connecting People with Plants.

About Rappahannock Goodwill Industries Inc.

Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, Inc. is a private not-for-profit organization that serves the City of Fredericksburg and a 12-county region. It provides work opportunities and job training to people with barriers to employment, particularly those with disabilities. Its operations include a commercial laundry, off-site custodial and administrative services, a packaging and assembly operation, four Job Help Centers, twelve Goodwill stores, a Goodwill Outlet, and numerous Attended Donation Centers.

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Bill Blevins
Plants Map
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