By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

There will be a variety of plants, unique gifts, exhibits, demonstrations, and concessions at this year’s Master Gardeners Spring Clinic & Garden Fair that will be hosted next weekend at the Harrison County Parks & Recreation Complex in Clarksburg.

Who isn’t ready for Spring weather to finally arrive? The Harrison County Master Gardeners certainly are … and they’re ready to help you get ready as well!

Spring brings an invitation for more outdoor living – whether it’s your patio, front porch, deck, or just a grassy lawn.  Or are you looking forward to growing some of your own garden produce this summer?  This year’s Master Gardeners Spring Clinic & Garden Fair can get you started.

As has become their tradition, the Harrison County Master Gardeners will be sponsoring their one and only annual fundraising event – their Spring Clinic & Garden Fair – next Saturday, May 5th at the Harrison County Parks & Recreation Complex on Rt. 19 South, Clarksburg.

The public is encouraged to attend the day-long event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that will include workshops, plant sales, numerous vendors with garden-related items, a flea market, exhibits, concessions, raffles and door prizes.   This is a family-oriented event, so bring the kids; there will be children’s activities as well – some of which will be held outdoors at the shelters.

Rebecca Chong, president of the Harrison County Chapter of Master Gardeners, stated, “This event features lots of things that are of interest to people at this time of year!  We’ll have both vegetable plants and flowers, hanging baskets, shrubbery, and trees.  And our flea market items are donated by our members.  These items often include gardening books, tools, and other things that are garden related – not clothing, shoes or things of that nature.”

They are hoping to offer approximately ten classes that day that are free to the public.  Some of the subjects include: How to Maintain Beehives (Steve Hamrick); Management of beneficial insects in the Garden (Dr. Daniel Frank); Vegetable Production (Dr. Lewis Jett); Snake Identification (WV Master Naturalist); How to Prune Fruit Trees (Dr. Mira Danilovich); Baking Artisan Breads & Bakery Products (Mark Goodwin); a demo on how to grow in low-tunnel operations (one of which will be raffled off following the demonstration); and more!  Signs will be posted at the fair listing times of the workshops.

Outside the facility, attendees will find trees, shrubbery, and beautiful hanging baskets for sale, along with a flea market, and some children’s activities.

Chong noted that there is always a lot of interest in the “Ask a Master Gardener” table.  This is an opportunity for attendees to stop by and get suggestions or answers to their gardening questions from experts.  She assured that if they don’t have an answer, they will find it and can contact that person if they leave a phone number or e-mail address.

Master Gardener Carla Kesling listed some of the vendors that will be participating.  L&M Farms will have herbal products, jellies, eggs, fresh greens, etc.; Dottie’s Handmade Treasures will bring handmade baskets; the Gift Corner at Vito’s Pizza will have garden décor, flags, etc.; North Hills Nursery will have plants and planters; Windbeam Way Nursery will have plants, trees and shrubs; WV Herb Association will have herbs and herbal products; Born Again Wood Birdhouses will bring hand-crafted birdhouses made from reclaimed wood; Appalachian Artwear will bring nature-related jewelry; Donald Sinsel will have hand-made windchimes; and Plant the Seed will have plants, hanging baskets, etc.

Kesling said, “We welcome other vendors too, and anyone wishing to be a vendor at the Garden Fair may contact me at 304-622-5982 or e-mail me at ckesling@ma.rr.com.  All vendors must sell garden-related items and be willing to donate an item for our raffles.  Tables fees are $10 each, and we take no percentage from their sales.”

Chong added that the Master Gardeners are trying to get a new program started through a few of the local libraries.  “The program is called ‘Seed to Go’, and people can check out seeds just like they would a book.  This gives people an opportunity to try gardening without any cost being invested.  The seeds are free!  Although it is not mandatory, it is nice if they would bring some seeds back that we can pass on, she said.”

Concessions available at next Saturday’s event will include hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, baked goods, and beverages.

The money raised at the Spring Clinic & Garden Fair helps the Master Gardeners in Harrison County support several area community gardens: the Shinnston Community Garden, Mary McCoy Garden on Monticello Ave. in Clarksburg, one in Nutter Fort, the Hospice Garden, and a garden in West Milford at their community building that is designed for people with arthritis or other disabilities.

Chong concluded, “We will have a great variety of unique garden-related items.  Our classes provide an opportunity to learn, and with Mother’s Day following just a weekend after our fair, it is also a great time to do some Mother’s Day shopping!

The Harrison County Master Gardeners meet the  4th  Thursday of  every month  with approximately 40 active members.  A few members come from Lewis County to participate because their county has no program. They all share a common passion for gardening, continue to take classes to remain certified, and give of their time with 40 hours of volunteer service each year.   Their support of community gardens in the area demonstrates their interest in sharing their knowledge of gardening with others and, for some, perhaps stimulating an interest in a new hobby.