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Local youth grows seedlings to support India’s COVID-19 relief

Lilah Booth is selling seedlings to support Red Cross efforts in India. Image via Lilah Booth.

A local youth is raising money to support India during this difficult period of the pandemic, through the Canadian Red Cross’s India COVID Response Appeal. And with the warmer weather finally upon us, local gardeners can help her out.

Lilah Booth, a grade eight student at RG Sinclair Public School, began growing a variety of seedlings at her home in March. This is the second year she has offered seedlings for sale, to support a charity in need during the pandemic. Last year she raised over $600 in support of Oxfam International.

“This year, I am donating money to the Red Cross project in India to support COVID relief,” Lilah shared with Kingstonist. “Five years ago, my family and I lived in India where my dad was on sabbatical, working in one of the large cancer hospitals in the state of Kerala. I went back to India with my father in 2019, where I did some volunteering at a school for homeless and very poor kids.”

The COVID-19 crisis in India has been devastating for the country. Booth said her family has many friends there they stay in touch with.

“They have told us how much they and their communities are struggling,” she said. “In Canada, many people are also suffering, but it is particularly tough in places like India. There is so much poverty and less access to public healthcare.”

Gardening has been an interest of Lilahs since she was quite young. Her mother, Celeste Booth, was one of the founding members of the Lakeside Community Garden, and her Nana is a farmer, so Lilah has been exposed to farms and gardens throughout her life.

“Lilah has been interested in plants and gardening since she was a little girl,” said Chris Booth, Lilah’s father. “She learned a lot from helping her mom who has hosted large seedling sale fundraisers for Lakeside Community Garden. Last year when the lockdown started, she expressed interest in growing her own seedlings and the project really took off. We have been happy to help her, and wanted to support her donation to charity, so offered to match the money she raises.” 

Lilah said her seedlings have taken over the family’s sun porch, now that they are established and growing well.

“Last year, I did two batches of seedlings whereas this year I did one larger batch. The most popular seedlings have been roma tomatoes, bonnie best tomatoes, nasturtiums, sunflowers, beans and sugar snap peas. I am more organized this year, as my mom helped me set up an Excel spreadsheet to track all of the orders,” she said.

Each year, Lilah’s skill set expands. This year she has learned business and time management skills. As a grade eight student, Lilah participates in remote schooling, but said she has time to grow her plants, as her usual activities, like soccer, are on hold right now.

“Lilah has learned a lot from this project, including gardening, business and time management skills,” Celeste shared. “She is very independent compared to last year, which is a testament to how much she has learned.  We are happy that she is donating some of the profits to a very worthy cause. It is heartwarming to see how much community support she has had for this initiative.” 

Lilah said the seedling sale is going well so far. “People are also keen to support India, as it is going through a rough time right now. Several people have made donations in addition to buying seedlings. When some of my relatives heard about my project, they also made donations to the Red Cross India Fund.”

She expects to sell enough seedlings to meet her last year’s total. Gardeners can purchase any of Lilah’s seedlings on Kijiji. Her listing includes all the plants she has currently, as well as what will be ready in the coming weeks. She accepts e-transfers and provides contactless pick up.

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