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Plant sale at OSU raises money, helps programs keep growing

Columbus might have smelled a little sweeter last weekend, as the aroma of more than 650 varieties of herbs, perennials and annuals, vegetables and other plants wafted through the air at the 2011 Spring Plant Sale, Auction and Gardening Fair at Ohio State.

The OSU Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens hosted the annual three-day event that raised money for the arboretum, student groups associated with horticulture and other third-party vendors.

“It’s our main fundraiser,” said Sue Downey, volunteer chairperson for the Chadwick Arboretum. She said the money raised goes toward the main operating costs of the arboretum, which the university does not fund. “It’s a huge event for us, with a huge need to have success.”

Downey said last year’s event raised more than $40,000. The profit for the student groups and programs and third-party vendors varied, with a percentage going to the arboretum.

She said at this year’s sale, more than 11,000 plants were bar coded for sale, the majority of which were bought from local wholesalers. Downey said area nurseries donated the 300 auctioned items.

Downey said the plant show has been held for about 15 years, and she has been involved for 10 years. It is usually the weekend before Mother’s Day.

OSU’s Crops and Soils Club is no newcomer to the event. Jay Witkop, a third-year in crop science, said he has worked the plant sale for the last three years with the club selling peppers and tomatoes.

“We use our money to fund the soil and weed science judging teams,” Witkop said.

Witkop said in about 24 hours, the club usually sells out of the about 1,500 peppers and 2,500 tomatoes that it grows and makes about $2,000 a year at the sale.

Patrick Sherwood, a second-year graduate student in plant pathology, said the Plant Pathology Graduate Student Association has been involved with the event for about 10 years.

“We sell Ohio native wildflowers. We try to keep everything native to Ohio,” Sherwood said.

Sherwood said the profits go to the plant pathology graduate student program to help cover research travel costs.

“We raise anywhere from $3,000-$4,000,” he said.

Anna Conrad, a first-year graduate student in plant pathology, said the plants started growing in the end of January and had required weekly maintenance since.

“It’s nice to see the product of your hard work pay off,” Conrad said.

Myranda Porada, a third-year in social work, said she saw the signs for the plant sale while driving by and decided to stop with her roommate.

“We have a flower bed by the house. We wanted to plant some spring flowers and make it pretty,” Porada said.

Downey said the unsold plants are usually either sold discounted to the volunteers or donated to outside organizations like Habitat for Humanity. She said last year many of the plants were used to help build a garden in inner-city Columbus.

The plant sale began on Thursday, with a members-only event for the Friends of Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens. The members-only event featured live music, food and the first pick of plants from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday and Saturday were free and open to the public, running from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., respectively. Auctions were held each day, with about 100 items available for purchase.

 

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