URI’s Master Gardeners to hold plant sale Saturday, May 6, on Kingston Campus

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 3, 2023 — Got tomatoes? Broccoli? How about peanuts and cotton? On Saturday, May 6, the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program will hold its annual plant sale in the Kingston Campus’ botanical gardens on Greenhouse Road.

It will feature the standard favorite plants alongside some surprises. Open from 9 to noon, thousands of plants will be available for purchase by credit card or cash. URI Master Gardeners will also be there to answer lawn and garden questions.

“Kate Venturini Hardesty, administrator of the Master Gardener program at URI, says the sale is a great way to support the mission of the Master Gardener program. Growing and selling plants gives us resources to offer services that promote adoption of environmentally-friendly gardening practices, which is the purpose of the Master Gardener program.”

The sale includes perennials, along with plenty of vegetable plants. “We have an entire tent devoted to tomato plants,” said Venturini. “We have 200 square feet of pepper plants. We have broccoli, strawberry, eggplant, and more.”

This year’s selection includes a few plants that New Englanders might be surprised to find, including peanuts, cotton, and loofa. Volunteers grew these plants last year as experiments to see how they would do in the northern climate, and they’re available for sale to the public this year. “Our volunteers are very interested in doing these trial plantings,” said Venturini. “They’re neat. I have these random puff balls of cotton that I’ve grown all through my house. I haven’t done anything with them, but it’s fun because people will say, ‘Did you grow that?’ Yes! Yes, I did!”  

“The event brings gardeners together, and is a venue for us to promote the URI Gardening and environmental hotline and our public workshops at libraries around Rhode Island, and to give away free seeds courtesy of Ocean State Job Lot and conduct free soil pH tests (bring a sample!). I think people can feel good about supporting the sale because it’s ultimately benefiting everyone who takes advantage of what we offer.”

For Venturini and the gardeners, it’s an exciting event. “It’s always amazing to me. It is one of the best days of the year, because people are so happy outside. It’s like, ‘See you later, winter!’ People who are united by this common interest come together because they love plants or want to grow food for their family.

“Some people want to grow food to donate and there’s a lot of beauty in that. It’s actually one of our favorite days.”

This story was written by Hugh Markey.