Wedding Planner

Benefield: Plant-N-Seek creates a scavenger hunt for green thumbs

Anthony Ramirez has become overzealous.

The Santa Rosa man went a little overboard with his backyard garden project in January and bought way more soil, seedlings and plants than he needed.

So he started giving the extras. He started with his friends and family. Then he realized he had more seedlings than he had friends and family willing to take them.

So he started leaving little pots of seedlings around town, hoping a green thumb would find them and bring them home.

“It wasn’t something I was looking to do. It was like ‘Oh well, what am I going to do with this?’ “, He said.

Then he decided to have a little fun with it.

He kept plants in his car, dropping one or two on the way to work. He kept some when he went shopping.

“If I go somewhere, I take a plant with me,” he says.

But he realized that some people might think the jars belonged to someone and pass by. So he began to staple a note to the jar, reading in part:

“Congratulations on finding this hidden seedling! Bring it home, plant it in the ground, and water it deeply and often as it grows. We hope it brings you as much joy as we have. had to grow it and hide it.

But he wanted to see how things were going, so he opened social media accounts on Instagram and TikTok under the handle @PlantnSeek. It began posting daily indices of its drop points.

He asked that people who find the plants tag him and keep him updated on their growth.

His first message was on May 28. In just over two months, Plant-N-Seek’s Instagram account has grown to over 1,000 followers. The TikTok account has more than 100.

It has received love from Free Art Friday, a collective of local artists who organize similar scavenger hunt-type events around Sonoma County with their art.

“It seemed to make people happy and it was fun,” he said. “I just think it’s a good thing to do. It brings a little joy to people and brings people into their garden.

Like many artists who post on Free Art Fridays, Ramirez is intentional about where he leaves his treasurers.

He is a lover of murals and public art. He likes familiar places, like the front porch of the DeTurk Round Barn on Donahue Street. He likes a good “Peanuts” statue.

Last Thursday, he left a tomato and a marigold plant at the foot of the Artstart mural at the Roseland Village shopping center where the new Mitote food park recently opened.

I found out what Ramirez was up to when the Free Art Friday Instagram account reposted a Plant-N-Seek drop just outside The Press Democrat building on Mendocino Avenue.

I raced up the back stairs and out the side door, but it was too late. The plant had been found.

But there is a certain thrill in acknowledging the drop point. Ramirez understands this.

“It brings a bit of joy and it doesn’t cost anyone anything,” he said.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Ramirez spends a lot more on biodegradable CowPots so you don’t leave any plastic behind. CowPots are also a draw because gardening beginners can simply put the containers straight into the ground – no fuss, no worries.

And after going through his initial stock of potting soil, he bought more. And he bought more seeds after giving away his entire original batch of sunflowers.

“Someone asked, ‘Who is your funding?’ and I was like, my back pocket,” he said.

But his idea, and the idea behind it, caught on. He received donations of vegetable seedlings and sprouts from Glass Onion Farm.

“They were fantastic,” he said. “Full grown vegetables. The plant I dropped this morning already had tomatoes on the vine.

How did they find it?

“The same way you did, on social media,” he said. “They said, ‘Hey, we like the idea, we like what you’re doing, can we help? “”

Last week he received a huge bag of seeds from Petaluma’s Seed Bank. So now Ramirez staples a Seed Packet to every CowPot he drops.

“These are wildflowers, drought tolerant, don’t need water but help pollinators,” he said.

A wedding planner saw what he was doing and donated flowers and plants at a recent ceremony.

“I’m truly blown away by the generosity of the community helping me,” he said.

He opened an online store last week. There are t-shirts, tote bags and mugs.

When we met at his house, he was wearing a Plant-N-Seek baseball cap fresh off the press.

Ramirez plans to invest the proceeds of the merchandise in buying starters for hearty winter houseplants.

What’s amazing about Ramirez’s project, aside from the sheer volume of his freebies, is that he swears he wasn’t always a gardener.

“Oh my god no,” he said. “I have a nice black thumb.”

He remembers that when he was living in San Francisco, he bought a cactus. He thought it would be a good starter plant.

He killed her.

He bought another.

Killed that one too.

When he realized that succulents “like to be neglected”, they began to thrive under his care.

But when he and his fiancée moved back to his hometown of Santa Rosa and bought a house, he started to get a little more serious about gardening.

Hence the out of control sunflower project that ended up starting Plant-N-Seek.

These days, he’s all in.

He makes videos informing subscribers of the progress of certain sowings. He makes plants and garden memes. He puts his drops to music.

Watching Ramirez “work” you get the feeling it’s not a chore.

“We buy local. We give them. It’s a nice concert,” he said. “For me, it’s like every little seedling is going to have its own little journey. I’m just the one who gets it started.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or [email protected] On Twitter @benefield.