To Jane Wellehan, having a plant sale as a fundraiser for a public school is a no-brainer.
“A lot of the school budgets have been cut hard, and it’s hard to keep asking parents for money for field trips and other activities,” said Wellehan.
“But a plant sale is money for free. People have to give of their time, but if you’re a gardener, you always have something extra, you’re always dividing things up.”
Wellehan helped put together plant-sale fundraisers when her two children were in grammar school. Now that they’re at King Middle School in Portland, she’s helping put together King Middle’s first plant sale, scheduled for May 22.
There was a time when plant sales were almost exclusive to garden clubs. Members had extra plants, and selling them was a way to make money for things like activities or scholarships.
But in Maine, where the short growing season has helped cultivate a huge crop of ambitious and zealous gardeners, plant sales have grown into a cultural phenomenon.
There are lots of grass-roots groups looking to raise money — school groups, sports boosters, churches, libraries, etc. — and everyone in those groups knows an avid gardener or two willing to help, or willing to buy.
“It was not hard at all to get people involved,” Wellehan said. “There are a lot of gardeners out there.”
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
Over the years, plant sales in Maine have grown to include baked goods, composting demonstrations, advice sessions, books and children’s activities.
At the Merryspring Nature Center plant sale, scheduled for May 22 in Camden, there will be used tools and gardening equipment for sale, along with plants.
At the School Around Us Plant Sale, scheduled for May 22 at the school in Arundel, you can get composted alpaca manure for your garden, see a worm composting exhibit and browse used books and a yard sale. There will be children’s activities as well at this fundraiser for School Around Us, a parent-run private school.
At the Old York Garden Club’s upcoming plant sale, also scheduled for May 22, a book on gardening written by club members will be for sale for $25. It’s called “In the Garden With Old York Garden Club: What to Grow and How to Do It.”
The book’s focus is “practical advice for local gardeners,” says garden club member Heidi Lumia, and talks about Maine’s climate and soil types, with a focus on what will grow in the Pine Tree state. There are also lists of local garden suppliers and the best gardening tools, and lots of advice from club members.
The book comes in a three-ring binder, so people can add magazine articles, garden designs or notes to it.
The book and plant sale will help raise money for the garden club’s scholarships, which are given to second-year students studying a horticulture-related field at a university or community college.
“The plant sale has always done so well for us in York; we have people lined up way before we open,” Lumia said.
“We have some amazing gardeners in York, a lot of people who let us go into their gardens and divide up their plants for this.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: