URI’s East Farm to host annual Spring Festival May 13

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Festival will be held Rain or Shine!

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 3, 2006 — The University of Rhode Island�s East Farm will welcome spring on Saturday, May 13 with an open house featuring plant sales, interactive children’s activities, demonstrations on gardening and commercial fishing, and walking tours of the University’s agricultural experiment station.

This year’s event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., features a shortened name — it’s now called the East Farm Spring Festival — more activities for young people and more educational displays, including a special tent that highlights the diverse activities encompassed by the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, which operates East Farm.

The event was formerly called the East Farm Open House and Crabapple Festival, but for the last three years the 200-tree crabapple plantation failed to cooperate with timely blooms, said Marion Gold, director of the URI Cooperative Extension Education Center, which plans the event. Now that the event name has changed, it appears that the timing of the blooms might be on target this year. Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras.

As usual, the URI Master Gardeners will have annual and perennial flowers for sale, including several varieties not available in area garden centers. For the first time, the Master Gardeners will also offer vegetable plants, all raised organically in their new greenhouse. The R.I. Wild Plant Society will also have plants for sale, and the event will be the pick-up day for those who pre-ordered seedling trees and shrubs from the Southern Rhode Island Conservation District. The district�s booth will also have day lilies, heaths and heathers for sale.

Other presenters with a gardening theme will include the Rhode Island Orchid Society, Betty’s Bee Farm, two URI Ask a Master Gardener booths, and free pH soil testing. (Bring a cup of soil by taking small samples from different spots in your garden or lawn.)

Several demonstrations are planned: Master Gardener Nan Quinlan on making compost; URI entomologist Thomas Mather on tick protection; Marion Gold on self-watering vegetable container gardens; Frank Crandall, owner of Wood River Evergreens, on organic landscaping for homeowners; and Master Gardener Rudi Hempe on “The Proper Way to Plant a Tree.” URI horticulturist Brian Maynard will give two walking tours of the ornamental trial gardens.

URI’s Department of Fisheries will have a presentation by Laura Skrobe on “Bizarre Sea Creatures” and a demonstration by Barbara Somers on the mysterious lobster shell disease. In addition, the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island will have models of fishing gear, a ‘touch’ box of fresh-but-dead sea creatures on ice, and free chowder.

The children’s tent will offer talks and demonstrations by the Learning Landscape Environmental Education program staff members at URI, a presentation on garden worms, arts and crafts, and a number of hands-on activities. Mark Binder, a professional storyteller, will perform.

Admission and parking are free. East Farm is located on Route 108, just south of URI’s Kingston Campus.