Seedleaf’s First Annual Un-Gala: An Origin Story by Christine Smith

Seedleaf's Un-Gala

Months ago, we were sitting around a table, thinking about year-end fundraising.

‘What are we going to do this year? Fundraising is hard but we have to do it and try to do it better.”

‘What about a gala? A fancy party?’

“Aww man, you mean in addition to fundraising, we also gotta dress up?’

Silence. Then a light bulb came on above a head.

“Wait! What about an un-gala where donors stay at home and enjoy the people around them but send in a check anyway?!’

“Interesting. Tell me more.”

“Well, that’s it really.”

“BRILLANT!”

And that is how this crazy idea was born. Besides satisfying our collective ambition for wintry comfort, it also communicates our values of community and reveling in the wealth that goes beyond what’s sitting in one’s bank account — the wealth of friends, family, cuddly pets, good food, cheesy jokes, conversation and ultimately, meaningful connection.

Now don’t get us wrong. We love a good party and some of us do relish getting fancy. This year, however, we want you to up your game. Instead of getting into your good suit, the one you use for funerals and weddings, or wearing those blistering shoes you know don’t properly fit, we want you. Genuine, open-hearted you. We want you to connect with those you haven’t spoken to in a while. We want you to share a table and break bread with your neighbors while sharing the latest neighborhood news. We want you to partake in a gala of generosity, care, kindness and joy. That’s the kind of party we really dig. (Get it? Dig?)

During the next eight days or so we will be spotlighting folks who post pictures online of what they are up to for their un-gala celebrations. We want to see you in the your most comfortable house onesie, eating your most delectable bowl of nachos, surrounded by your nearest and dearest or just that one person at work who makes your job bearable.

Everyone who participates by donating and posting a pic along with the hashtag #SeedleafUngala will be entered to win a $50 Kentucky for Kentucky gift card.

So what are you waiting for? Stay home! And don’t worry. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future for you to put on your finest attire and eat hors d’oeuvres. This year? Just strike a pose while playing charades at home and send Seedleaf a check.

Donate here.


Beauty and the Community Garden by Christine Smith

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Recently someone asked me to tell them about Seedleaf gardens and the benefit they offered surrounding communities. Obviously Seedleaf gardens provide food and are places for learning and neighborly engagement. These are all very good but at the top of my list was beauty. At their best, Seedleaf gardens offer beauty and for me, this is just as important as the food that comes out of them. 

To clarify, beauty refers to more than appearances. There is an emotional element as well that is hard to capture but may be described as equilibrium or truthful recognition. For most people, daily life is filled with busyness, worries, slights, romances, anxieties, arguments, duties and a non-stop list of things that may not be remembered in a month’s time. Their immediateness gives them an outsized importance and sometimes we define ourselves by this flurry of emotional and physical activity.

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When I enter a garden, and look around and listen and begin work these external things fall away for a while. I don’t know my birds very well but I try very hard to remember the names of the ones I do know and how to recognize them. I now know the laser sounds of the Cardinal and the cooing of Mourning Doves. As I work, I listen and take time to watch critters and insects eat and build homes. Active acknowledgement of all this, these happenings that happen whether I am there or not bring me back to myself and provide perspective. For an hour or more, I don’t think of deadlines or all the things that must be done or can’t be done. Or, if I do think about them, they shrink to their proper non-life threatening size.

Most importantly, when I think of myself and my life at these moments — the high drama, fright and disappointment of being goes somewhere and I remember who and what I am — a woman, clever, a little odd, but generally good and certainly no better or worse than the next person. This is not a novel observation but every time I feel it, this truth, I am struck. 

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Then, there is the more traditional understanding of beauty, referring to the appearance of things and landscapes. Often the designation of beauty falls upon objects that are proportionate and orderly. And yet, to my eye the most beautiful Seedleaf garden is our Georgetown place permaculture garden — the messiest and most chaotic garden that we possess.

It has a wildness that for two growing seasons I have tried to contain and control. It is chock full of Winter Creeper, Rose of Sharon, Ivy, blackberries, tree of heaven, honeysuckle and pockets of poison ivy. It can be tiresome to work in this garden but it is there, in all that wildness that I can’t help but pay attention to the way different leaves present themselves, or admire the prettiness of shafts of light on Black-eyed Susans.  Nature demands to be seen. By stopping and taking the time to admire, again I am reminded of the importance of these things that exist outside of myself and my worries and reminded that in paying attention to them, they reveal some truth about me, too.

Seedleaf is hosting an Un-Gala to raise money to build an educational pavilion and tool shed up at our urban farm. To donate, click here.

Become a Seedleaf Ambassador, Travel the Internet, Win Cool Stuff by Christine Smith

  The educational pavilion and tool shed we need your help to build! #GoodGivingChallenge

The educational pavilion and tool shed we need your help to build! #GoodGivingChallenge


It’s the Good Giving Challenge, we’re inviting anyone and everyone to help us reach our goal of raising $16,000 over the course of the week to build an educational pavilion and tool shed up at our urban farm space on North Limestone.

But we get it: Fundraising hootenannies like this one favor participation by folks with extra cash, but for those of us without, they become one more reminder that things in the United States, and in Lexington, are woefully unequal. Well, here’s a way you can help Seedleaf and potentially win a great prize, independent of any money given.

All you have to do is sign up to be a Seedleaf Ambassador (directions here), share two unique social posts from your own social media accounts (suggestions here) across four of the seven days asking your network, friends and family to donate money to Seedleaf and repost at least five Seedleaf social media posts throughout the challenge, and you’ll be entered to win one of these fabulous prizes:

That’s it. No hocus pocus. No deep pockets required. Just sign up and spread the word. OK? Give us a shout via email if you have questions or trouble here, and many, many thanks to the companies providing the donations.


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Medlars and the Edible Pleasures of a Garden in Winter by Christine Smith

Medlar on the tree

In the fall, starting around the end of October, Seedleaf begins the process of putting its gardens to sleep. Spent plants are removed, the remaining produce is harvested and compost is scattered on top of our raised beds and covered with mulch. This transition is both wished for and dreaded. The spring and summer season are busy times and the winter promises time to slow down. By the end of October, we feel ready not to look at the gardens again for several months. But we are also passionate gardeners, farmers, and foodies. We really like to eat and we really like to graze as we work, preferring the direct ground-to-mouth pipeline of carrots, cherry tomatoes, basil, kale, and blackberries. Yes, the winter is a time for rest and planning but honestly, its approach is also a period that can try one’s heart and stomach. 

Yet, it is also true that the natural world is not as harsh as we make it out to be during this time. Trees without their leaves show the beauty of their trunks and their individuality as twisting branches and limbs become the focal point of our admiration. Seed heads that float above dead plant foliage offer birds food and some fruits offer up their best selves during this period. At our Grace garden on Race Street, the Medlar becomes the star of late fall and early winter. 

 Medlars, ready to be plucked and eaten.

Medlars, ready to be plucked and eaten.

The Medlar has been grown and enjoyed for centuries but it is not sold in stores and is unfamiliar to most people who hear the name or encounter it. It is also ugly and you have to eat it when it is rotten. In literature, the fruit is often used as a metaphor to describe something bad or evil that also feels good, most often referencing sex and prostitution. In truth, the fruit is at its best the more ‘rotten’ it is allowed to become. The Medlar is produced on a small tree that begins fruiting in the summer. If you cut it open during this time it is a pale and sometimes greenish white color with an astringent taste. It is considered unripe until it undergoes a process called ‘bletting’ where fall and winter frosts help the fruit soften and produce sugars. The fruit slowly turns from being hard, white and inedible to a mushy ball that when opened exudes brown pasty goo. Medlars reward the patient and if you have let your Medlar sit long enough either on the tree or in a cold place after harvesting, you will be rewarded with this mush that tastes like a mix of apple, pear, and cinnamon. After munching on several in a row, you will ask yourself how the garden continues to produce such wonders even in the cold of November. 

Medlars (Mespilus germanica) are now available at Grace Garden, 449 Race Street.