This article by Diane Duvall originally appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Northern Gardener. For more information about joining the Heirloom Circle, contact Diane at dduvall@northerngardener.org.

Talent, knowledge, time and financial support is Heirloom Circle member Terry Beitlich’s perfect recipe for philanthropy. “When you have passion for a nonprofit’s mission, these things are given freely and without obligation or expectation of return,” he says. “This is community engagement at its best.”

Heirloom circle donorTerry was one of seven children growing up in southeastern Minnesota with a mother who was an avid gardener. “She grew a lot of our food in our large garden, which was stored in the fruit cellar, frozen, dried and canned. We lived on that garden all year long.” Terry says his mom did all of the work, so he didn’t learn to garden until after he graduated from college and moved to the Twin Cities. “I had a friend who started giving me plants and I was hooked,” he says.

Terry worked in the accounting field, so gardening was an avocation for most of his life. When he decided on semi-retirement about 10 years ago, he started working at Linder’s Garden Center (now closed) and later at Wagners Garden Center. That’s when he says that gardening became a vocation. “I picked up a lot of knowledge from staff at the nursery and from our customers, many of whom are serious gardeners.”

About that same time, Terry started volunteering with MSHS because he wanted to get more involved as a member. “I really started caring about the work of the society when I volunteered at events like the spring home shows and the state fair.” Terry says that Garden-in-a-Box is essential to teaching the next generation how to garden. “I remember planting bean seeds and watching them grow in kindergarten class. I don’t know if schools have the resources to provide these kinds of programs anymore and that is where the society steps up.”

Now retired, Terry spends a lot of time in his garden growing tropicals, which he overwinters and donates to the Minnesota Zoo. He says retirement made him think about his legacy. “When I made the decision to join the Heirloom Circle and include the society in my estate plan, I considered what has inspired me most in my lifetime. Gardening is something that I just feel passionate about. It’s an essential ingredient to a great life.”

Leave a Comment