From a quiet Evening in the garden in 2007 to a 200-person, sold-out event, Evening in the Garden has been a key fixture of FarWest Landscape & Garden Center’s philanthropic efforts. For 17 years, Dennis & Maya Fix, owners of FarWest, and 45 employees have generously donated their seven-acre nursery to serve as the backdrop for Habitat’s key fundraiser. Yet, most of you don’t know the history of FarWest’s contributions and breadth of support for Habitat and the event.
“We had done a couple of company-wide community service projects [in the valley], but the garden center wanted to give back more,” said Dennis. “So, we just sat down with the staff and said ‘We want to give back. What organizations do you all support?’”
Each FarWest staff member was presented with a ballot in which they could vote for their favorite nonprofit for the Garden Center to support.
After tallying all FarWest employees’ first, second, and third choices, Boise Habitat was overwhelmingly the winner.
“It was a no brainer that we just go with Habitat. Everybody obviously knew of it and believed in it and wanted to contribute to it,” Dennis said.
Evening in the Garden was born. It first began as a fundraiser planned and funded by FarWest directly.
Across the Treasure Valley, supporters now anticipate and associate the popular Evening in the Garden with FarWest Garden Center. Operating as a plant nursery and landscaping destination, customers come from near and far to shop FarWest’s selections. This is especially significant due to FarWest’s commitment to donating a portion of the day-of-event sales from the nursery to Habitat.
“We are kind of known for [the event],” Dennis said. “So we do get many people to come in. We definitely get people who come in on that day to shop, because FarWest gives a portion of the sales back to Habitat.”
Despite the event’s immense success, FarWest’s focus is on Habitat’s work rather than the Garden Center’s public perception.
“We really didn't promote the fact that we were contributing to the community, contributing to Habitat,” Dennis said. “So, a lot of people never even knew we did it. We wanted to do it. We didn't want to do it for the PR. We wanted to do it because it was the right thing to do. To give back. Give back to Habitat, give back to the community. It has grown to the point where people recognize what we do and how we do it.”
The virtuous nature of FarWest bleeds into everything FarWest does for Evening in the Garden. This is especially evident in FarWest staffs’ willingness to help with the event: from building custom flower centerpieces to clearing out pallets full of plant material, setting up and breaking down all event rentals, the culture of FarWest is blaringly obvious.
“There's always people who want to be part of [Evening in the Garden],” Dennis said. “Every year, I ask who wants to be there for the evening, and every year I have to pare it down to three or four people because 15 or 20 people raise their hand and say, ‘I want to be here, I want to be a part of it.’”
In past years, FarWest has even organized friendly competitions between employees and other garden centers for the best floral arrangement at Evening in the Garden. All baskets were auctioned during Evening in the Garden and the designer of the planter that brought in the highest bid was recognized at the event.
Habitat is blessed to have partnerships that are worthy of bragging over. Successful partnerships are reliant on people local companies like FarWest to trailblaze philanthropic support and fundraisers. Thank you to the FarWest team, for your continued support of affordable, decent housing in the Treasure Valley.