'Plant rescue' sows seeds for home-based business to take root

EUGENE, Ore. - Marcia Peeters found herself down on her luck after losing one job after another to a series of layoffs when a friend asked her to take care of a plant.

Peeters grew up on a farm and has a background in botany - and soon found herself developing a reputation for taking in orphaned plants.

"Somebody gave me a pear tree, somebody gave me a dwarf cherry tree ... people just started giving me things. It was word of mouth - 'Oh, this lady will take these? I don't have to haul them to the landfill or the composting pile?'," laughed Peeters.

People started leaving plants on her doorstep. Sometimes anonymously, sometimes because they were moving, had lost their home or didn't know how to care for the plant.

"Sometimes I'll come home and I'll find a plant on my front porch. No idea where it came from, no idea what it is," said Peeters. "The problem of course with rescuing plants is you don't always know what you're getting."

Her "plant rescue" has turned into a business she's dubbed Pierce Street Gardens. Her home - with both the front and back yards packed with plants - is at 20th and Pierce.

"I started carrying peppers and tomatoes, and then I started carrying vegetables. Then perennials, then people asking for plants that were deer-resistant, or beneficial for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees ... and the process just continues."

Peeters said she's realized that the plants she rescues have rescued her, providing her with a home-based business and a means to generate an income without facing the threat of being laid off.