It’s little, the flowers are free, and the concept is making hearts happy.
“I feel like as a community, we have so many different resources that the more we can just share with each other, we’ll make our community healthier and stronger,” said Northport Village resident Sarah Milford Anderson, who just last week put into action an idea she has had for quite some time.
A New York City educator passionate about gardening and charity work, Sarah debuted a Little Free Flower Stand in front of her Norwood Avenue home – and on social media – on May 28. She stated, simply, that all flower arrangements were free but that she’d list charities on a rotating basis, should visitors choose to donate.
The response was overwhelming. People seemed genuinely touched by the idea, and especially grateful.
“Thank you for bringing such beauty and joy to the community,” wrote one commenter. “This is so special and just lightens my soul,” shared another.
A native of Huntington, Sarah spent ten years raising a family with her husband Tim in Nyack, New York, a tight-knit community on the west bank of the Hudson River. There, Sarah was inspired by the generosity and organization of community members and, while on maternity leave, became the lead advocate for a free, public skatepark in town, a grassroots effort completed in 2015.
“It taught me to be brave in doing things with and for the community,” she said.
Sarah and Tim moved to Northport with their two children in 2017. In the years since, the Andersons have had to adjust to a new community amidst heightened political division and a pandemic.
“I thought you know, I’m fairly new to the community and it might just be a fun thing,” Sarah said of the flower stand. “I really wanted to focus my energy on something positive that might bring people together in ways they hadn’t thought of before.”
Sarah said she’d seen in her travels variations of stands that offer things up for free and has always wanted a flower stand. She shared her vision, and multiple design inspirations, with her husband, who surprised her this past Mother’s Day with a stand he made himself, in their backyard.
“I knew he was up to something,” Sarah said, as he would sneak wood into the backyard and disappear for long periods of time. “It was really special.”
The stand is now host to a mix of established flowering plants that were on the property when the Andersons moved in, native varieties Sarah brought in herself, plus interesting additions like spearmint and lavender. Sarah plans to include vegetable and herb overages from her garden, and hopes to keep the stand open in the late fall and winter too, with pine arrangements from seeds foraged from her property.
In its first week of operation, the Little Free Flower Stand brought in $100 for Lewis Oliver Farm Sanctuary in Northport Village, and for the next couple of weeks, will collect money for the Deckaid X Stronghold Project, which benefits Lakota youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The stand will continue to operate on a donation-basis, raising both funds and awareness for charities near and far.
The message of kindness and generosity is resonating extra deep in the community – and spreading fast.
One morning last week, an anonymous neighbor left a handful of arrangements, in glass jars, for Sarah to include with her own flowers, and more recently Rexer Family Farm in Huntington donated tomato and pepper plants to the stand.
“There’s a lot of places to put one’s energy,” Sarah said. “Sometimes we can really get caught up in the news cycle or on social media and negative posts. It just takes one act of kindness and generosity to make you think the world isn’t a bad place… most people are kind at heart.”
The Little Free Flower Stand is on Norwood Avenue in Northport Village, between Oxford and Oak Street. You can follow the stand on Instagram: @thelittlefreeflowerstand.
More information on the Deckaid X Stronghold project can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/sup...