2016-03-29 / Front Page

Over 700 Attend Gardening Fair Held March 19th At Putnam Fairgrounds

Early in the morning, Steve and Missy Carrell of Ponderosa Aqua Farm in Spencer explained “Aquaponics.” During the rest of the day, the Carrells shared tasty samples of the delicious microgreens that they raise and sell. (Courtesy Photo) Early in the morning, Steve and Missy Carrell of Ponderosa Aqua Farm in Spencer explained “Aquaponics.” During the rest of the day, the Carrells shared tasty samples of the delicious microgreens that they raise and sell. (Courtesy Photo) Goodbye, winter and hello, spring! Saturday, March 19, was the last day of winter, and inside the Community Building at the Putnam County Fairgrounds in Greencastle, gardeners were getting inspired to celebrate a new growing season. It was a gardening celebration!

Close to 750 people attended the “Gardening Fair – Something for Everyone” hosted by the Putnam County Master Gardener Association.

While it was cold and blustery outside, the indoors was full of plants and flowers and flowering shrubs and trees. Snowy Pines lent flowering trees and shrubs and ornamentals – they decorated the entire stage area to look like a landscaped garden. The DePauw greenhouse folks lent two gorgeous ZiZi plants and several beautiful garden items were also lent for the day by Country Folks Greenhouse and Produce. Greencastle’s Kroger store loaned several plants, too. Master Gardeners even brought their favorite house plants from home, including the showiest and the most interesting.

All day from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. there were things going on. Because the Master Gardeners’ focus is to educate people about the many facets of gardening, they had seven different speakers who gave presentations. Early in the morning, Steve and Missy Carrell of Ponderosa Aqua Farm in Spencer explained “Aquaponics.” During the rest of the day, the Carrells shared tasty samples of the delicious microgreens that they raise and sell. Following the discussion on aquaponics, national artist Donna Harcourt taught people “How to Paint Flowers.” Following that, author and radio personality Moya Andrews presented “Continuity of Color,” inspiring gardeners with suggestions for how to choose garden plants so that the garden is always full of color, from the beginning of spring through fall, and even in winter.

In the afternoon, Tavia Pigg from the Flying Pigg Butterfly Ranch discussed “Butterfly Gardening.” She showed remarkable photographs and explained the life cycle of butterflies, and suggested what gardeners should plant – especially the plants that are native to our area – to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Then Matt Chandler from Chandler Farm and Country Market taught folks “Grafting and Pruning Fruit Trees.” He showed the implements he uses, and had several photos that explained which branches to keep and which to cut off. During a Q and A, the audience had several questions that Matt answered.

Sam Erwin, the owner of Indiana Berry and Plant Co. is an expert on raising and harvesting small fruits, and he drove in from Plymouth, Indiana to speak about “Lesser-Known Backyard Edibles.” The audience had lots of questions about everything from strawberries to goji berries, and Sam answered everything with humor and obvious expertise. He handed out asparagus starts and rhubarb starts to everyone who came to hear him. The last speaker for the day was Master Gardener Damaris Zehner who gave a very thought-provoking presentation about sane and sustainable living – “Gardeners and Self-Sufficiency: Past, Present and Future.”

Between speakers’ presentations, the Master Gardeners gave away scores of door prizes. Vendors donated items to be given away, and several of the local Greencastle businesses donated items as well. People won books, garden tools, cell phone accessories, artwork and lots of other things. Finally at the end of the day, the grand prize – a garden cart donated by B & J Cattle Co. – was given away.

At the beginning of the day, for the first 200 folks to attend, there were goodie bags to give away. They were filled with seed packets, pens, maps, brochures, and all kinds of literature about gardening and about our local community. The bags themselves were prizes – insulated bags and cloth grocery bags.

The First National Bank supported the event, too. For the fourth year in a row, they sponsored a baby tree give-away. There were 200 tree seedlings from the DNR that were given away – 11 different varieties, from native dogwood trees to paw-paws. It looked a bit funny – little sticks poking out from people’s shopping bags – but the gardeners in the crowd understood what great gifts those little trees were!

About 40 vendors were invited to attend the event. They sold plants and seeds, garden art, rustic furniture and signs, pottery and books. There was honey for sale, and syrups, jams and jellies, soaps and lotions, gardening equipment, gift items, cards, photographs, even things made from gourds. People could learn about building and maintaining garden ponds, fertilizing lawns, growing herbs and building fairy gardens.

The vendors who were at the Gardening Fair included the following: Native Plants Unlimited; Harriman Farms; Aquatic Designs & Supplies, Inc.; Copper Top Meadows; Sandi Wallace; Heavenly Springs Farm; Crafters Mall; Artfelt Creations; Lisa Doran; Rustications; Clay City Pottery Stoneware, LLC.; Garden Greetings; Jim Toney; Hoosier Sugar Daddy; Papilio Earth Effects; Bags, Embroidery and More; Olde Homestead Shoppe; Heritage Lake Storage & Garden Supply; My Hunny’s Honey. Also included were Cataract Photo; Close to Home Crafts; Monta’s; Indiana Gourd Society, Inc.; Theresa’s Fun Flowers, and Jerry’s Organic Supply.

Two of Putnam County’s FFA chapters came and spent the day as well. Cloverdale High School sent representatives who demonstrated plant propagation to youngsters in the crowd. Helen Eaglin, a member of South Putnam High School’s FFA chapter, demonstrated her school’s aeroponics system.

Park rangers from Lieber State Recreation Area were there as well. They brought tree cookie necklaces for the children. Once the kids learned about the importance of trees, they decorated their cookies, learned about Smokey Bear, and had Smokey’s paw print painted on their faces. For the adults, there was information on Cagles Mill Lake, hunting maps and campground maps, as well as the new 2016 Recreation Guides. A lot of folks asked about the reintroduction of the bald eagle in Indiana.

The Putnam County Library brought books to the event as well, and Barbara Timm spent the day sharing information about the library’s books and other resources for gardeners.

Karen Staub, Master Gardener and professional artist, taught people how to create a framed piece of art made from pressed flowers and leaves.

And of course there was food! The Hog N It All BBQ folks came the day before and set up their smoker. They actually spent the night at the Community Building running the smoker all night long and preparing the pork, beef and chicken for the next day. As early as the building opened, they began selling pulled pork quesadillas as well as traditional breakfasts. Later in the day people were drawn in by the delicious aromas, and folks ate sandwiches and nachos and sides.

The day was masterminded by Kristi Nelson, the Master Gardener who was chairperson for the event. Her committee included Nan Girk, Cyndi Blocher, Laura Lee Bollman, Mary Jane Toney, Vickie Whicker and Jane Jackson. Jenna Nees of the Purdue Extension Office of Putnam County was invaluable. Kristi’s goal – which is the goal of Master Gardeners everywhere – is to teach people about the joys of gardening.

The Putnam County Master Gardeners invite everyone to join their group. They meet on the first Tuesday of the month, and anyone interested in attending can call the Purdue Extension Office 765- 653-8411 to learn more. Clearly, there are a lot of folks in Putnam County who are interested in gardening. At least 750 of them!

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