She had always wanted to attend one in the past, but the opportunity never presented itself during a time when she could go. Sometime last year, as she was scrolling on Facebook, a post by Pots' n' Pansies Greenhouse & Garden Centre out of the Barrhead area caught her attention.
"They posted a picture of a plant swap and asked if anyone was interested in doing one. I messaged right away and said that I was interested. I told them that I was in Whitecourt and asked what the odds were to set one up. She said absolutely," explained Munday. The post had offered to provide shelving for anyone that wanted to hold one. Munday contacted them this spring to find out when she could pick up the shelves and make sure it was still a go. "I asked her what the cost would be, and she said it wasn't going to cost anything which I wasn't expecting. We were stunned. They didn't charge us at all."
Munday said that as they were ready to leave with the racks, they were surprised with something else. "They said we couldn't have a plant swap without plants. We walked around the greenhouses, and they were pulling out plants and putting them in a pile for us. I couldn't believe that they had donated those plants." She said they also gave seeds.
"I spent that afternoon planting things and separating the multiples into singles. I had a bunch of red solo cups, and when I was done, I was shocked at how many plants they had given us. I had six trays of plants!" Munday said that she was expecting to grow plants herself to get it started. "I don't know if we would've gotten started so well without them donating the plants. I am betting there were about 100 plants. They said to take them, and they wouldn't take a dime."
Munday said the selection was fantastic. "They gave us perennials and annuals. There were vegetables, herbs, succulents, and so much more. They did this to help Whitecourt get started on this plant swap project. It was quite a bit monetary donation to the community, and Pots' n' Pansies Greenhouse & Garden Centre deserves all the credit for that."
The swap is located in Munday's backyard parking spot and is impossible to miss. "My husband, Brian, put the shelves up on our fence and signs sponsored by Trimline Design to let everyone know they are in the right place." The swap officially opened on Mother's Day weekend and was initially planned for Saturday. "It was so cold that I decided not to put them out because I didn't want to kill off all the plants on our first day," she laughed. When she put things out on Sunday, she wasn't expecting much. "I figured we wouldn't get as many people because it was Mother's Day, and I think I spotted ten different groups come. That only counts the ones I saw! I was so happy. It was fantastic. The momentum has built from there, and it feels like every time I turn around, there's somebody out there looking at plants or trading plants."
Munday said that some people have dropped off plants without taking anything, and she even has books back there. "We are hoping to be done by the end of the month, but we will keep it up because there will still be fall plants that we will want to split off. So be sure to check it out in the fall again." Anytime the temperature drops below five degrees, Munday takes the plants inside to protect them and puts them back out in the morning.
Her back driveway is big enough to allow for social distancing so that a couple of people could look simultaneously. "It's wide enough for three vehicles, so if two people pull up, they can distance. There's lots of room back there, and the selection changes all the time because people are part of it and dropping things off. It's a community thing."
She said that she had seniors, children, and everything in between. "I had a five-year-old boy come by that wanted a flower for his mom, so we told him to take one. He was so excited. It is nice to see that even the young are getting excited about taking a plant. Plants are one of those things where it's a mental health support for people where they can get out and get their hands in the dirt and work with their plants. It is therapeutic."
Now that she knows how popular the event is, Munday said she looks to continue doing it in the future. "I think it's something Whitecourt needs. I think we are going to keep it going as long as we can. It is a fun, cheerful, and positive thing for the community to enjoy, so why would we take that away?" One group she hopes doesn't get in on the fun is the deer. "So far, they haven't found it," she laughed. Her dog is helping with that by barking if they get too close. Munday said not to worry if he says hello from behind the fence. "He might be a bit loud, but don't let him scare you."
If there are any plants leftover, Munday said she would likely reach out to the hospital and other organizations to see if they would be interested. "It shows that this community can work together to make great things happen. It's a small thing, but hopefully, it ripple's out and becomes something that everyone looks forward to." The Munday's Plant Swap is in the back alley of 4 Baxter Crescent. "You'll see a garage and a big parking pad. As soon as you see that parking pad, you'll see the plant swap shelves attached to the fence. Can’t miss it!"
Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press