ROCKLAND — The MCH Meals on Wheels program recently received a unique donation check for $121 with a small sticky note attached.

The note reads:

“During the summer, my daughter and I potted up succulents and put them next to my flower stand for a donation to Meals on Wheels. This is the total donated; including a gift from one gentleman who said he didn’t need a plant, but Meals on Wheels helped him once when he was in need so he wanted to give back. Thanks for the work you do! Jan”

Every summer, Jan Conrad, who lives in Camden, gathers cut flowers from her garden, along with other easy to grow plants, and puts them on a small stand on Mountain Street where they are sold on the honor system. This summer, her daughter, a fourth grade teacher, added potted succulents she had leftover from a school project beside her mother’s stand.

When asked why she chose succulents, she explained she absolutely loves propagating plants. As anyone with experience growing these drought-resistant plants knows, propagating succulents, and the resulting abundant number of babies, also known as offsets, or “pups,” can be an addictive habit.

“Succulents are easy to grow and make great plants to start with kids. At the end of the school year, she had extra little glass Oui yogurt jars that she had received from a friend and succulent babies,” Jan explained.

The mother and daughter, along with their respective green thumbs, planted the baby succulents in the small jars and added them to the stand next to Janet’s plants and bouquets of mixed flowers, tied up with raffia.

At first, they didn’t seem to sell, but slowly, the succulents started to disappear.

“Every year, I take half of the money my stand earns and I usually donate it to the soup kitchen. But, this year, I decided to choose another organization that I thought could use the support,” Jan continued, “I thought with the pandemic, Meals on Wheels could probably use the support.”

Originally, Jan took over the plant stand tradition from her mother, who had a stand when she lived there.

“My mum used to put out plants she had divided from her garden on a stand in front of her house,” Jan said. “After a while, people just got into the habit of coming by.”

Jan was already setting out her plant divisions for sale when her youngest daughter began Betsy’s Bouquets and added her cut flowers to the mix. When her daughter moved to San Francisco, she kept the name and continued selling flower bouquets beside her plants.

With three generations of green thumbs, looks like the “pup” doesn’t fall far from the tree.

MCH Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization committed to delivering hot, home-cooked, well-balanced meals Monday through Friday to people in need in every corner of Knox County.

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