Mel’s Adirondack Adventure
By Kim Roman and Amie Guyette Hall
In late June we had an awesome time getting together with Mel. As you may know, Belinda Jensen, Amie Guyette Hall and I have been working for several months helping Mel and the Foundation, but we’ve never been altogether until this trip.
|Mel at the Caldwell Country Store near Lake George, NY|
FINALLY! We were all going to be able to meet and give and receive hugs.
|Amie Hall-CT, Mel-CA Belinda Jensen-UT, Kim Roman-MD|
The first event was a “Meet and Greet” at Amie’s where Mel entertained the audience with a mini class and some great stories, and we enjoyed some wonderful healthy “nibbles” and beverages.
The next morning, even though he had to be tired from the time change, Mel was in good spirits as we took him on the first part of his whirlwind tour of the Adirondacks.
Our first stop was the Hillview Free Library in Diamond Point. Mel had a great conversation with the librarian and presented the library with copies of his books.
The next stop was Adirondack Safari where we met a young family whose young son was an absolute delight and a budding entrepreneur. The final stop of the morning was a new roadside nursery called Caldwell Country Store.
That evening the “gang” finally got together at SPAC and enjoyed hearing Belinda and the choir sing.
Early the next afternoon, we enjoyed a lovely “Lunch and Learn” session where Mel gave another Introduction to Square Foot Gardening class. We also got to hear from Bob Markey about his burgeoning SFG project with the YMCA.
Next it was on to the Bolton Free Library where Mel again donated SFG books to the librarian. She was quite proud to tell us that they had a garden out front based on the kids song “Oat, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow”. Mel had a little fun with the garden, which had a string “grid” held on the raised bed by . . . nails. YIKES!
|Mel sees string used as a grid|
The point of visiting libraries is that they are usually great spots for you to work with the staff to place a Square Foot Garden. You will want to make sure that the staff is excited about the garden or that you find an organization that will make sure it’s maintained. Donating a book and teaching a core group of volunteer gardeners is key. Great places to develop partnerships are nearby Master Gardeners, garden clubs, scout troops, etc. This way the library staff won’t feel that it’s more of a burden to their already busy schedules.
Our final stop that day was at the charming Bolton Garden Center and Country Store. Independently owned garden centers are also great places to form partnerships. They may want to carry the All New Square Foot Gardening books. You can buy them at wholesale prices and resell them to the garden center for a small markup. This will allow the garden center to mark it up again to make a couple of dollars per book. Encourage them to carry Mel’s Mix or at least the components and vegetable seeds and transplants.
If you’ve ever read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, he outlines the difference between living out of an abundance mentality vs. living out of a scarcity mentality.
People with a scarcity mentality tend to see things as win-lose. If there is a finite amount of something, either tangible or intangible, and someone else has it, there will be less for me. They hold onto everything with a tightly clenched fist.
Conversely, people with an abundance mentality see things as win-win. If you have an abundance mentality, you are happy for the successes of others. You tend to help others since you believe that other peoples’ success adds to your own success and happiness.
By forming these partnerships and helping these entities succeed, you may also find that it is a great way to expand your own business. Libraries and independent garden centers will likely invite you to teach classes where you can make some wonderful contacts.
Mel definitely lives an abundance mentality and works tirelessly to make sure that each and every one of us is successful in our own businesses while helping him with the Mission of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation . . . to end world hunger.
Instructors on the Move
Mel is especially proud of the efforts of CI, Bob Markey of NJ . Bob has been working with the YMCA and in his own words he says."
"I recently gave a 15 minute video presentation to the New Jersey YMCA Alliance encouraging them to replicate at other Y’s throughout NJ, my ongoing Rahway YMCA SFGardening summer camp program. It was received well by their Executive Director, Bill Lovett. His YMCA national contacts are very interested as well. I orchestrated the meeting and the presentation with the support of, and the attendance of, President-Elect of 4500 member Garden Club of NJ, Susan O’Donnell and the Director of Rutgers Gardens, Bruce Crawford."
Keep up the great work Bob, we can't wait to see SFG's at every YMCA!
Keep up the great work Bob, we can't wait to see SFG's at every YMCA!
|TIm Lyons Tempe, AZ|
Tim Lyons has been very involved with the Knights of Columbus in Tempe Arizona. He says," The Knights of Columbus has initiated the “Food for a Lifetime” project which provides fully constructed and stocked Square Foot Gardens to families, individuals and institutions who have a need for additional food. The project helps recipients understand and use the Square Foot Gardening techniques created by Mel Bartholomew to grow some of their own food in the gardens. The goal is to provide at least 1,600 square feet of gardens each year to be used to grow additional food in the Tempe/Mesa/Gilbert/Chandler Arizona area. Plans are also underway to expand the project statewide, nationally and internationally. The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization with over 1.8 million members and over 15,000 councils across the world." Thank you Tim for your great service to the communities in Arizona!
|Welcome New Certified Instructors!|
|Bonnie Thompson Lynn Haven,FL|
|Tim Lyons Tempe, AZ|
|Shannon Richard New Milford,CT|
|Hannah Richard New Milford, CT|
|Shannon and Hannah's SFG|
Resources for Instructor Improvement
HOW TO GET THE WORD OUT
By Kim Roman
There are many places to teach Square Foot Gardening, but how do you get the word out?
Once a month I teach a SFG class at my small house and “advertise” online at my local patch.com and my Facebook page. Since Patch is city/town specific I normally post in several neighboring Patch locations (Glen Burnie, Severna Park, Broadneck, etc.). Think of Patch.com as an online local newspaper – they have news and also community events and classes. It doesn’t cost anything to join and announce your classes.
Although I haven’t done it in awhile, I have also blogged on Patch. This is a wonderful way to position yourself as the “expert”. I usually start in February and write until September (from starting seeds to putting your SFG beds to rest). I did two posts a week (one with SFG-specific information and another with general gardening/vegetable information.
As is possible on a business Facebook page, which we’ll discuss later, you can schedule your posts in advance on Patch and other forums. For Patch, I wrote them in the winter and had them scheduled for when I’m too busy to write. For my Facebook page, any time I go on vacation I schedule a daily post.
My Patch articles provided many students for my classes, but also garden clubs and other organizations started contacting me for speaking engagements, events and classes.
You can also contact the garden or lifestyle editors of local print newspapers and television stations. I noticed that my favorite morning news show had learning segments on it so I emailed the out of the blue saying, “Would your viewers be interested in a short segment on Square Foot Gardening? I’m a SFG Certified Instructor and . . . “ When they contacted me back they said that I’d have three minutes and the anchor had to be involved. So I provided the anchor with what was basically a script, brought some visual props and it went well.
I posted the video on my web site and social media. It would be great if I could show it to you, but after a few years they deleted the link. If only I would have thought to record it instead of depending solely on the link. Please learn from my mistake.
Have you seen home and garden shows in your area that have speakers? Some are local affairs, but many larger ones are put on by production companies that have shows in many states. Some will not allow you to speak unless you rent a booth as a vendor. Fortunately I didn’t know that and naively emailed the production company asking if they needed speakers at the Maryland Home & Garden Show. They gave me two seminars. After each talk so many people came up and asked where my booth was that for the last three years I’ve gotten one.
Booths are EXPENSIVE, but because I am a speaker, and because my business is so small, they have given me a DEEPLY discounted booth space. Once one production company has given you a discount, you can use that as leverage to work on others. I had one company call me and when they gave me their booth price ($1500) I said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t afford that. I’m a very small business and the Maryland Home & Garden Show offers me $_______ plus two seminars, and that’s for two weekends.”
Honestly unless you’ve been to the show recently yourself, or know someone who has, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. The MD H&G Show provided me with enough leads that I had to double the number of classes I offered AND several people had classes at their house – I kind of like these like a Tupperware party with gifts for the host dependent on how many guests show up (there has to be a 5 person minimum). In April I had ELEVEN classes and seminars and EIGHT in May. I would have had more classes in May but I was away on vacation for 10 days. Most of the students came from the H&G Show and several more came from an article written by a local community garden writer.
However, even with the discounted booth, I lost money at the Baltimore Remodeling and Landscaping Expo. The last time I went to it was probably 10 years ago and it was half the size with nothing but home improvement vendors. I was the only garden-type of vendor and even though the name included “landscaping” there weren’t any landscapers there. Don’t get me wrong, exclusivity is normally a good thing, but since no one was expecting to see a gardening person there, I could almost hear crickets chirping. Attendance was very light for the entire show.
A Press Release is also a good way to get the word out for free, but you need to learn how to do them right and not just “spray and pray” as is mentioned in this article:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/
how-to-write-a-press-release- with-examples/. They recommend that you: use it as a sales tool, have a newsworthy story, write like a reporter, provide good quotes and contact the top outlets personally.
If you don’t use social media, I hate to tell you that you are at a deficit for getting the word out quickly. It’s taken about three years, but my Facebook page now has an audience of 4600, and it’s free. Don’t use your personal FB page, but set up a business or group page. I usually post twice a day and try to post a variety of things. Not everything is Square Foot Gardening related, but when I DO cover SFG it’s always as Mel prescribes. The general rule is to have 80% of your content come from other sources (interesting gardening or health-related articles, witty memes (think of a poster or billboard), photos, short videos, etc. and 20% be your original content (pictures of YOUR garden). Always try to engage the audience by asking open-ended questions. For instance, post a picture of a tomato from your garden and ask, “What varieties are YOU growing this year?” “Do you prune your tomato suckers? Why or why not?” For your photos or the memes you create, put your information on them so that when people share, their friends will know that it’s your material.
If you only have access to email, that’s fine too. Send out an email copy of your newsletter at least weekly. If you don’t have a computer, you can relay on local newspapers and newsletters. A press release and newsletters can certainly be done on paper but of course it costs to copy and mail. In that case your newsletter can come out monthly during the growing season or even quarterly.
As you can see there are a number of ways you can get the word out to the public that are free or at little cost. Can you think of some more?
New Product!The CuBe raised garden bed was created with Square Foot Gardening in mind. Each bed measures the familiar 12" so a grid is not even needed! Buy as many as you need for the size of raised bed desired.
Mel's Answer Book Now Available
Mel was able to get his publisher to reprint this helpful and popular book that answers so many common questions people have about SFG. If you don't have a copy, be sure to get one today!