RootMates is a plant adoption program started by Abby Dixon, senior forestry major from Flower Mound, at the beginning of April.
Through a pay-what-you-want system, the program allows adopters to choose the plant they want at minimal cost. As the seed sprouts and the seedling begins to grow, picture updates are sent to the adopter. For local adopters, the plant is delivered once it is stable. Adopters in other parts of the country will have seeds, a biodegradable pot and a small bag of soil mailed to them.
Dixon said she chose plants to bring awareness to mental health because she has seen how plants can change a person’s life.
“Mental illness is something that is impacting society on a huge level – one that I don’t think gets enough attention whatsoever,” Dixon said. “I thought starting this initiative would help bring these issues to light, while offering someone something that takes little mental and physical capacity.”
The initiative began on Instagram through the circulation of ads and tags. With help from her partner, Dixon said she has been able to manage and communicate through social media. Her friends have helped her with plants and local deliveries.
Dorothy Jackson-Tubbs, a graduate student in the counseling program from Nacogdoches, said it was through one of RootMates’ sponsored Instagram posts that she first heard about them.
“It was so professional that at first, I thought it was a massive company that shipped all over the country,” Jackson-Tubbs said. “When I realized it was a startup company actually based in Nacogdoches, I knew I had to support it!”
She said her package included not only her plants in decomposable pots but also an info-graphicwith care tips. RootMates isgreat for anyone just getting into gardening, Jackson-Tubbs said.
Maddie Rosenbalm, sophomoregeology major from Garland, also reached out to RootMatesthrough Instagram. She said the process was simple: she messaged them on Instagram, sent RootMates$5 on Venmo and she received three plants on her doorstep two weeks later.
“It’s been really nice to have some[thing] to brighten up the apartment while I’m in the trenches for finals this semester,” Rosenbalm said. “My roommate liked them so much she’s also going to be contacting RootMates for her own seedlings.”
In addition to improving the adopter’s mental health, Dixon said RootMatesis going a step further by donating 90% of the funds received to a mental health nonprofit. Right now, it is the Denton County LOSS Team. Dixon said she was able to sponsor the program through personal connections but said she is working on sponsoring non-profit, mental health organizations in Nacogdoches.
And while 90% of funds received are donated, she said the rest of the money goes right back into RootMates.
“As far as a profit goes, there really isn’t any going into our pockets as that is not the point,” Dixon said. “We get enough donations for our 10% to cover what we need, and that’s all that matters.”
Now that more people are looking to adopt plants, she said volunteers are welcome to join the RootMatesteam.
As of right now, RootMates offers about 50 species of plants; but soon, Dixon said, they will have many more.
If you would like to adopt a plant, give a donation or volunteer with RootMates, you can reach out to them through their Instagram @root.mates.