Sponsored by the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. event is expected to draw up to 2,000 visitors who can find answers to their gardening problems, learn about some of the latest research developments in the college, provide entertainment for their children and make purchases to spruce up their yards.
This year the event will have composting and energy conservation as main themes to be addressed through a number of presentations from inside and outside the college.
Started five years ago as an open house to give the public an inside glimpse of East Farm, the festival has now blossomed into one of the college’s two big public events, the other being GreenShare in the fall.
A major attraction is the sale of vegetables, herbs, annual and perennial flowers all raised by the URI Master Gardeners in their two greenhouses on the property. While the plant sales are a big draw—especially because many varieties are not usually found in garden centers—there are numerous other activities that visitors can enjoy, all free of charge.
The college will have a tent filled with numerous displays ranging from tick bite prevention to the geo-spatial extension programs. Bridget Reummele, a turf researcher will be available to identify weeds and give turf advice and Master Gardeners will analyze soil for pH plus answer garden and lawn problems.
Conservation issues will be addressed by the URI Master Composters, compost bin kits will be on sale for $25 by the state Division of Waste Management and home composting advice will be provided by Master gardener Reinhard Sidor in the Master Gardener Demonstration Vegetable Garden at 10:45 a.m.
From the college there will be experts on the Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program, information on the lobster fishery and on wildlife. From outside the college, Frank Crandall of Wood River Evergreens of Hope Valley will talk on using compost tea to organically feed lawns, trees and shrubs (11 a.m.) and SeaScape Lawn Care will give a presentation on sustainable turf.
Energy issues will be covered by a number of exhibits including a presentation by URI chemistry professors describing the development of new types of batteries and a presentation by SolarWrights, a firm that specializes in solar energy devices.
The chemists, Brett Lucht, and David Freeman will explain their work on hydrogen storage fuel cells, photovoltaic devices, batteries for hybrid automobiles. Another professor, William Euler, will describe the work his team is doing to make the process of distillation in the chemistry industry more energy efficient.
Other activities include:
10:30 a.m. –A tour of the East Farm trial gardens by Brian Maynard, horticulturist.
11 a.m.–A talk on preventing tick-borne diseases by Thomas Mather, entomologist,
11:15 a.m.–A talk and tour on blueberries and apples by URI Research Associate Heather Faubert.
Noon– A workshop on how to properly plant trees and shrubs by Master Gardener Rudi Hempe.
12:15 p.m.–A native plant walk on the property given by Jenna Sicuranza, a graduate student.
12:30 p.m. –A talk on rhododendrons by URI Research Associate Bill Johnson.
1 p.m.—A talk on low maintenance planters using green roof techniques by URI Research Associate Nick Castrataro.
A special tent will be set aside for children’s activities on an educational theme including a display on raising worms by The Worm Ladies from Charlestown, a 4-H Program booth, the URI Learning Landscapes program, mammal and bird information, seed starting, fantasy flowers and making paper bugs and butterflies.
The Department of Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science will have a few small farm animals on the premises and children, who just want to sit, can listen to a professional storyteller, Katie Latimer. Music will be provided by strolling musicians and the Red Tide Ramblers.
Fisheries will have volunteers staffing the aquaculture greenhouse and a workshop where visitors can decorate tee-shirts using sustainable fish for making the prints. Chef Normand Leclair will give a cooking demonstration.
The Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island will offer chowder samples.
The Southern RI Conservation district will have its annual seedling sale pickup during the festival. While most seedlings were pre-ordered by people, there will be other small plants for sale as well on a first-come, first-served basis.
Depending on the weather, East Farm’s 200-tree crabapple orchard may be in bloom and will be open for visitors.
Parking attendants and Boy Scouts will direct visitors to the parking areas which are somewhat removed from the plant sale area and most activities. There is some handicap parking but the property is hilly and has some unimproved roads. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable footwear.
Visitors who plan on buying numerous plants should bring small wagons or other devices to carry their purchases to their vehicles.
Visitors who want their garden or lawn soil tested for pH should gather about a cup of soil made up of small samples taken from about 10 different spots. Take the samples to the soil testing booth.
Visitors with weed or turf issues should bring small samples with them and take them to the weed/turf booth.
Visitors with diseased plants should take them to the Ask a Master Gardener Booth.
East Farm is located on Route 108 (Kingstown Road) about a half-mile south of the main traffic light in Kingston Village. There are no parking or admission fees. The festival will be held rain or shine.