We had a blast in 2012 and the icing on the cake was Christmas. We came up with a hair-brained idea to help raise awareness and funding for the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. And what a wild ride that became!
In keeping with our mandate to encourage people to grow their own food from open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds. Much to our delight, we discovered that White Spruce is edible. (We found a number of recipes for everything from spruce jam to spruced up martinis.) We created Christmas Wishes: a collection of White Spruce seeds with complete instructions for preparing, germinating and growing Christmas Trees from seed along with information on the history of the Christmas Tree.
But how to make people aware. Especially with no marketing budget. Hmmm.
And it hit us. Why not plant a spruce tree in the Truck Farm. Oh, and what if we decorated it. Maybe some lights… and ribbon. We contacted Figaros’ Garden (one of the first places to sell our seeds) and asked if they would be willing to donate a living spruce tree. They jumped on the idea. That little success spurred us to drop by Magnet Home Hardware on Commercial Drive and see if they had battery operated Christmas tree lights that they would be willing to donate. After seeing the Truck Farm, they couldn’t have been more into it.
We went out and bought some ribbon and the kids at Raycam and Lord Strathcona community centres made some decorations for the tree.
The tree arrived at Figaro’s and we drove up to get it (with iPhones taping the whole thing). We planted it in the truck right there on Victoria Drive and drove directly to Magnet to pick up the lights. Once we got back to our home base in Strathcona we put on the lights ribbon and some of the kids’ decorations (which sadly did not handle the wet weather, even after we coated them with polyurethane and had to be replaced with hand painted wooden ornaments.) Then we surrounded the tree with ornamental kale to represent gifts under the tree. And, just for good measure, we bought some heavy duty chain which we wrapped around the tree and connected to the truck with a padlock. We had lost a few things over the past few months and wanted to be sure the tree stayed put.
It was so sweet, and quirky. We kept a stack of Truck Farm sample seed packs in the glove compartment to hand out. People waved, gave us the thumbs up, even blew kisses! At one point the preschoolers from Phil Bouvier Daycare sang Christmas Carols. Driving around in the Truck Farm became the perfect cure for almost anything. Wherever we parked at least a few people would gather and take photos. (Apparently they are all over Instagram.) Occasionally we would get looks from police. We weren’t sure but we had a feeling we might be crossing some kind of line with a twinkling Christmas Tree planted in the back of our truck. Research (OK we finally asked an officer) revealed that it is illegal for vehicles to have flashing red, blue or white lights unless they are emergency vehicles. Apparently “warm” white, which is what we had, is OK because it is more golden than white. And, besides, you’d have to be a pretty grinchy cop to ticket someone for having a Christmas Tree twinkling in the back of their pick-up.
To help us out Thumbnail Brand Corporation designed some signs and Eyezone printed them up. We planted them in the back with the tree when it was “on display” at Lonsdale Quay and the Great Canadian Christmas Craft Fair (we almost got towed from that one!).
We didn’t sell as many of the Christmas Wishes as we would have liked, but it is the first year and we might just give it a shot again next year.
We had hoped to be able to grow the tree a little more for 2013 and use it again. Unfortunately it came to a sad end on New Years Eve. At about 9:30 that night a neighbour came to tell us that they noticed our tree was missing. We checked it out and sure enough there was a hole where is was once planted. Some of the kale was smashed and there was dirt smeared down the sides and trailing off down the sidewalk. We followed the trail for a block and found some of the ornaments, parts from the lights and a portion of the root ball. We called the police and they kept a look out for the tree but it never showed up. Hopefully, we will get lucky again and get a tree and lights donated next year. In the meantime, here are some retrospective photos. As for the video, it is still in post – we had hoped to get some footage of the tree while we were driving but the tree was taken before we got a chance (we were a little behind schedule anyway).