The event, started in 2002 by a group of URI Master Gardeners who volunteered at the farm, has grown into the College’s biggest public showcase and annually draws close to 2,000 visitors to the 70-acre research facility.
The festival is the major fundraiser for the Master Gardener Program. Since early February, Master Gardeners have been working daily in their two greenhouses, growing organically raised annuals and perennials and also vegetable plants that will be sold that day. Many of the varieties being offered are unusual—there are 47 different varieties of tomatoes, for example.
The free event attracts visitors from all over the state who come to buy plants but are then exposed to the various URI research and outreach programs. Several large tents are erected to cover exhibits and presentations in case of inclement weather.
One special tent houses free activities for children, such as “How to Grow a Succulent Garden,” an opportunity to get a hands on experience with composting worms, lots of crafts, and a storyteller that will share a funny interpretation of how plants grow.
The Department of Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science will have a few small farm animals on the premises, and there will be a workshop where visitors can make tee-shirts using sustainable fish for making the prints.
At the headquarters of the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island, seafood will be offered for a modest donation.
Music will be provided by Myke-Sky, Forest Sister and several strolling musicians. Vendors from various organizations will showcase their “green” ideas and some will have products for sale.
The following workshops will be offered:
10:45 a.m.—“Composting in Your Gardening Life” by Nan Quinlan, Master Gardener and Master Composter/Recycler
11:15 a.m.—“Rain Gardens” by Claire Golembewski Master Gardener and Master Composter/Recycler
11:45 a.m.—“How to Plant Trees & Shrubs” by Master Gardener Rudi Hempe
12:00 p.m.—“Sustainable & Disease Resistant Plants for Your Landscape” by Frank Crandall, owner of Wood River Evergreens
12:45 p.m.—“Summertime Wellness: Think T.I.C.K., Take Action” by Tom Mather, URI entomologist
1:00 p.m.—“Rare & Unusual Trees in the URI Collection” by Brian Maynard, URI Plant Sciences Professor
Free pH soil testing will be available for those who bring soil samples from home. Rain barrels and compost bins will be on sale. Plant information booths will be staffed by Master Gardeners and in one building the Southern Rhode Island Conservation District will hold its pre-ordered seedling sale.
The event will be held rain or shine.
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.