PlantCatching, an online ‘catch and release’ community

PlantCatching is an online ‘catch and release’ community that connects folks in possession of unwanted/surplus gardening materials with those who might want them.

Matt Hickman explains:

“Meet, a website that enables those with extra or unwanted seeds, perennials, gardening materials, and related plant-related paraphernalia to connect with local folks who might actually need/want the surplus goods for gratis which, in turn, prevents the aforementioned not-so-ideal alternatives.

The avid gardener always has plants to offer. This may be a plant to be divided, perhaps a plant which doesn’t fair well in the garden conditions, or extra seedlings and seeds too. We don’t always know with whom to share this surplus of plants, and more often than not it ends up in the garbage or compost.

PlantCatching wants to solve both of these problems by helping you find new plants close you and giving you the means to provide your own. It would be very surprising if you did not meet more people with the same passion as you after using PlantCatching!

The site was launched back in April by Nicolas Cadilhac, a French Canadian gardener, who, after a large gardening project found himself with an ample amount of leftovers on his hands. “There were a lot of errors, dead plants, re-buys, compulsive buys. My neighbors had the same problem,” he tells the Los Angeles Times.

PlantCatching revolves around a nifty labeling system identifying what exactly you are “releasing”: Seeds, bulbs, materials (rocks, containers, soil, compost, etc.), fruits and veggies from your own harvest, or even a plant (generally a perennial, but houseplants and annuals work too). Other information such as sunlight requirements and color are listed on the label as well.

Once a label is created, the actual donation process can work in three ways: Public mode (you leave your donation in front of your home or in a public space with label attached for a random passerby to pick up), semi-private mode (the donation is listed on the PlantCatching map with instructions from the donor on how to retrieve it), or private mode (the donation is listed on the PlantCatching Map and actual interaction with the donor is required).

To find a plant or gardening materials that are up for grabs, simply type in your address using the search function and nearby donors — it starts with donors within a 1-mile radius and can be expanded to 10 or 20 miles — will pop up on the map.

Once the recipient picks up the item, they indicate that it’s been “caught” on the PlantCatching website using the plant’s unique label. The donor then confirms this action and the item disappears from the website. This way, a dozen different people aren’t left scrambling for someone’s excess compost after it’s been already snagged. Registered PlantCatching users can also create requests that appear on the site: “You can list the plants you would like to acquire, the compost you need or the new vegetable variety you dream to try. When a user makes a search on the map in your neighborhood, he will see the existing local demand and could be tempted to donate some of the requested plants.”

As pointed out by the Los Angeles Times, while popular in Montreal, PlantCatching has yet to catch on in the same manner elsewhere. However, PlantCatching’s “Seed Your City” section has details on how to foster a community of PlantCatchers in your neighborhood.”

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