Propagating self-care

@wpgfreeplants hosting plant giveaway for mental health

To celebrate World Mental Health Day, Winnipeggers can reward themselves with a complimentary free plant on Oct. 10. Raffle prizes featuring rarer plants, craftworks and art prints will also be available for attendees to place their draws. Those who register will be notified of the central, Exchange District location closer to the day of the event. 

Riel Lynch (left) and Jannica Reyes are the people behind the @wpgfreeplants Instagram account. Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black.

Riel Lynch and Jannica Reyes, who met through the online plant community, are the co-founders of @wpgfreeplants on Instagram and the organizers behind the free plant event. Reyes says she got in touch after Lynch posted about a similar event happening in another city. 

“I sent a message to her saying how cool it would be to work on something like that,” Reyes says. Soon enough, @wpgfreeplants was born. 

If the number of houseplants in your abode has been growing exponentially since quarantine, you’re not alone. Lynch observed this when a local plant-sharing community on Facebook that she is a part of grew from around 500 members to almost 6,000 members in a couple months. 

Reyes, who runs the Instagram account @waltandmillie, and Lynch, who runs the account @sunroomplants, find joy in sharing their love of houseplants with the world. As Lynch sees it, plant care is synonymous with self-care. Just as each plant requires specific care, self-care provides a look into the conditions one needs to thrive. 

“I’ve always used owning houseplants and caring from my plants as an escape,” Lynch says. “It’s really relaxing to be immersed in nature.” 

Cheryl Cohan, a horticultural therapist, attests to the mental health benefits of plants, both in her practice and from personal observation. Having worked as a therapist for more than 10 years, she says she tries her best to incorporate the healing powers of tending to plants and nature into her practice. 

“The plant very much progresses the way that people do,” Cohan says. She uses a metaphor of planting seeds of awareness – whether it be of the self, a problem or challenge – and then administering to one’s needs to promote growth. 

“I think everyone should be immersed in nature, especially in this time,” Cohan says, citing physical, mental and spiritual benefits to doing so. 

Above all, the organizers say they owe their thanks to the community for the overwhelming support. Local greenhouses have donated plants, while artisans have contributed prints and craftworks for raffle prizes. Others have offered to volunteer or donate plant clippings to be propagated. 

“It’s been really amazing to receive this kind of support,” Reyes says. 

The reach of the free plant event will extend beyond those who receive a new green companion. Wanting to give back to the community and support mental health causes in any way they can, Lynch and Reyes say additional funds from the raffle prizes will be donated to Sunshine House and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). 

“None of this would be possible without community interest and people coming together,” Lynch says. “It’s fitting that we donate that money right back into the community.” 

Check out @wpgfreeplants on Instagram for more information on how to register for the free plant event.

Published in Volume 75, Number 04 of The Uniter (October 1, 2020)

Related Reads