A free plant stand encourages neighbors to swap succulents, cuttings and smiles, too.

Free Plants in Eagle-Rock on Shelves
Deanna Kizis

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When the 2020 shutdowns began, Jacqui Bracey, who works in the apparel industry at US Blanks, saw an idea for a “Little Free Garden Stand” on her community Facebook group and loved it so much that she and her boyfriend got to work. Some leftover fenceposts, a few licks of paint, and a basket for smaller items, and their “Leaf a Plant, Take a Plant” stand was an instant hit.

“It’s been fun for the neighborhood,” Bracey says. “Once we put it up, people started riding by on their bikes and pulling over in their cars, like, ‘Aw, that’s so cute!'”

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Stands like these are a growing microtrend; Little Free Garden private Facebook groups have sprung up in California and Arizona, the latter of which has almost 10,000 members. (If you want to be approved to join, be warned: No putting first dibs on plants!)

Jackie Bracey’s “Leaf a Plant, Take a Plant” stand was an instant hit with the neighbors.

Photo by Deanna Kizis

Meanwhile, the no-charge stands are a refreshingly analog response to Insta-friendly, online plant stores like Bloomscape and The Sill. While websites like those are an easy-entry way to get an indoor garden going and the images are sublime, it is worth noting that, on the Sill, two potted heart-shaped Hoya kerriis retail for $64.

At Bracey’s stand, neighbors keep the shelves stocked with free succulents, cacti, herbs and sweetpea seeds. She’s had to be careful not to leave out garden tools by mistake, however, as people have been known to pick those up. “I think they thought they were free,” she says with a laugh.

Heirloom tomatoes and shishito peppers are among the free offerings.

Photo by Deanna Kizis

Plants are usually snapped up in less than a day, but fortunately, someone keeps the stand stocked on the semi-regular. Bracey refers to them as the “plant fairy,” since their identity has yet to be revealed.

“I thought you might be the plant fairy!” she said when I arrived with fresh reinforcements, including two potted garlic chives that were gone by 9 a.m. the next morning.

I’m not, so the mystery endures. But I do promise I’ll be back to leaf a plant—and take one, too.


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