New plant exchange lets Fairfield seniors nurture relationships and gardens

FAIRFIELD — Hoping to grow more opportunities for in-person socializing during the pandemic, The Bigelow Center for Senior Activities hosted its first plant exchange on Friday morning.

People were invited to bring by one or several plants, shrubs, vegetables or whatever they were interested in giving away, and likewise were allowed to take home the like number of new items that they found in exchange.

“Everybody has a plant to share — and a story to go with it,” explained Julie DeMarco, human services director.

DeMarco said it’s been a long winter and this springtime event was ideal to encourage growth in both spirit and the garden.

“Everybody plants more than they can handle themselves,” said Gita Rajan, of Fairfield, who brought several large plants to trade. “And everyone gives them away to people they know. I think it’s a fabulous idea.”

Along with discovering some different examples of greenery to add to their own gardens, several people also shared their thoughts on what appeals to them so much about horticulture.

“I get away from my husband,” joked Carol Muller, of Southport, who brought some plants that are resistant to the deer that populate the area. “It’s good to get away. It’s good to get out. It’s good for your mental health.”

Like others, Muller was pleased with this idea of a plant exchange.

“Since the building is still closed, we’re just trying to do more outdoor activities,” said Brenda Steele, center director. “It’s just one of our drive-by events.”

At this point she said they didn’t know when the center would reopen, but noted that the Department of Health just celebrated administering more than 20,000 vaccinations at this location.

“We just thought we’d try something new,” she said of the plant exchange. “And it’s that time of year.”