The event, started in 2002 by a group of URI Master Gardeners who volunteered at the farm, annually draws nearly 3,000 visitors to the 70-acre research facility. It is sponsored by the URI Outreach Center and the URI Master Gardeners.
The South County Farmers Market will be in operation during the event as well.
“The sale of plants and other spring gardening products is what usually attracts most people to the event, but once they get there they also find lots of other useful products and information and plenty of food and entertainment,” said Sejal Lanterman, who coordinates the event for the Outreach Center.
Workshops and demonstrations will be held all day long on such topics as growing native plants, composting, container gardening, growing tomatoes and funding opportunities for agricultural producers.
Among the 50 vendors and exhibitors at the festival will be Earth Essence Herbals, Bio Tech Pest Controls, Landscaping Concepts, the Chocolate Delicacy, the Worm Ladies of Charlestown, the R.I. Water Lady, Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, Pots & Petals Native Plants, and many more.
Of particular interest is an exhibit by the Tick Encounter Resource Center. “Locally, deer ticks seem to be having their own spring festival,” said URI Entomology Professor Thomas Mather, director of the Center. “Thanks to our friends at REI in Cranston, if you bring a pair of your gardening/golf/dog walking shoes to the festival, you can leave them to be treated with tick repellent and pick them up as you leave.”
Children’s activities will be provided by the URI Learning Landscape Program and the 4H Program, including a petting zoo of URI’s farm animals, and gardening advice can be obtained from the Ask a Master Gardener or Ask a Master Composter booths. Free pH soil testing will be available for those who bring soil samples from home, and the Rhode Island Blood Center will be on hand for those wishing donate a pint of blood.
Entertainment will be provided by Jelly Roll Soul, and a raffle will offer such prizes as a rain barrel, worm composting bin (including worms), containers filled with plants, and free admission to gardening classes and the Master Composter and Master Energy training programs.
“The event is happening rain or shine, and we encourage folks to bring a wagon to transport their purchases to the parking lot,” Lanterman said. “It’s always a perfect opportunity to get a last minute Mother’s Day gift or to get plants and groceries at the same time.”
East Farm is located on Route 108 in South Kingstown. The entrance is one-half mile south of the main traffic light in Kingston Village. Parking and admission are free. For additional information, visit http://www.uri.edu/cels/ceoc/east-farm-spring-festival.html or call 401-874-2900.