We all hold many identities. I’m so proud when I get to introduce myself as a leader within Third Act, and I often share that I am also a mother, an immigrant’s daughter, a queer woman, an activist, and a musician. But one of the things I rarely skip when I get to meet new people is, “I’m a gardener.” 

It’s an easy way to share my love for where I live, and to elicit stories. Folks love talking about their thumbs, whether brown, green, or a kind of early-spring color somewhere in between. And so I know there are lots of you out there brushing off your broadforks this time of year. Like me, you might be feeling a deep connection between our work here at Third Act and the utter joy—and importance—of growing a garden.


Vanessa in her garden

Vanessa's daughter in the garden
Vanessa’s daughter in their garden


If that sounds like you, I have good news: this spring we’ve partnered up with the folks at Garden for Wildlife. They let you fill in your zip code to find perennial bulbs, plants, and shrubs native to your neck of the woods. And if you decide to add any to your garden a portion of that sale will go toward supporting Third Act’s work. 

Native plants turn patches of soil into places of belonging. They thrive alongside the critters that live near us, they’re low maintenance, and they improve our soil—and our soil’s ability to draw and store carbon safely underground. And there’s just a special quality they have; they’re so alive, right where they’re meant to be.

You can check out what’s on offer near you at Third Act’s Gardening for Wildlife page. There are native plants available in most states–some western states are still forthcoming–but beyond plants you might also consider sending a gift card to celebrate the spring, for Mother or Father’s Day, a birthday, an anniversary, or a wedding gift.

As I’ve learned about our movements for justice, I’ve come to understand why the great Ella Baker, key leader in the civil rights era, called community organizing spadework. It’s the daily commitment to understand who’s around you. It’s the commitment to listening, to having skin in the game, to patience, and to the wending non-linearity of progress so obvious in a garden plot, and so crucial to our work of building power together.

Now I grew up reading Miss Rumphius, so when I moved into my home a few years ago, the first seeds I planted were sundial lupines. Not much digging required there. But I hold on to my garden spade with reverence all year long—this spring in my garden, where I’ll plant some sky-blue asters in honor of Ella—and in our work here at Third Act, where it’s an honor to build this movement together with you.


Vanessa’s sundial lupines


Third Act has partnered with Garden for Wildlife by National Wildlife Federation to provide more wildlife support by installing native plants in gardens. Built on National Wildlife Federation’s 50 years of research, Garden for Wildlife sells native plants that can thrive in your community’s gardens.


Third Act will receive 15% of the total sales from your purchases with them through the next 12 months. Using this link will assure the sale is credited to us. Please remember to use the same email address each time you shop there.


Vanessa Arcara

Vanessa Arcara

Vanessa is the President and Co-Founder of Third Act. She is an activist and administrator, a gardener and a mother. Vanessa began her activist work in the world of food justice at Slow Food USA, SolidarityNYC, and on small farms across the northeast of the United States. Her writing has been published in State of the World: Innovations that Nourish the Planet. For the last decade she’s worked on the climate crisis at 350.org, helping coordinate actions big and small. She lives in upstate New York with her family.