Kim Barth stood tallying her haul, two shopping carts jam-packed with native grasses, veggies and plants. It was a sight to envy for gardeners just beginning their annual hunt for greenery Saturday at the mammoth Mother’s Day plant sale at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights.
“We get a little carried away,” said Kim’s husband, Bob Barth, pointing to their stock of black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers.
The couple were able to snag the majority of what they’ll need to spruce up their large yard in Falcon Heights during a 2½-hour shopping spree at the Friends School Plant Sale. Now in its 26th year, the sale requires around 1,200 volunteers to turn the State Fair’s Grandstand into a makeshift nursery, building hundreds of sawhorse tables from 2-by-4 planks to hold row upon row of plants.
Henry Fieldseth has shepherded it from a one-man operation that grossed $1,000 for an all-school project into the biggest fundraising plant sale in the state. Last year, the three-day sale grossed $900,000 — putting exactly a third of that back into the school for tuition scholarships.
This year’s sale is even larger, and on track to break $1 million.
Friends School of Minnesota is a K-8 school in St. Paul that’s grounded in Quaker values. It serves 164 students.
With its selection of rare and exotic plants, the sale draws tens of thousands of shoppers each year, ranging in skill level from last-minute gift-givers to serious green-thumb master gardeners. The organization stocks more than 2,500 varieties of annuals and perennials and has more shopping carts on hand for bulk buyers than the set of TV’s “Supermarket Sweep.”
April Chavez, of Richfield, attended the sale for the first time with her mother Friday but decided to return the next day for items that were previously sold out.
With her 4-year-old daughter Lexi in tow, Chavez grabbed mums, mother-of-thyme and azaleas to surprise Grandma. When she wasn’t cozied up to the flowers in her wagon, Lexi pranced around in a sundress, keeping track of the day’s bounty on a clipboard.
They planned to plant them all together, Chavez said.
“What better way to celebrate?”