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Help your garden grow with Spring Plant Sale

The warm, sunny weather Bakersfield has been enjoying has many itching to dig back into their gardens. Just in time, Edible Schoolyard Kern County has brought back its annual Spring Plant Sale.

Last year's sale, like so many other events, was canceled due to the pandemic. Organizers are ready to open the garden on April 10 with some modified plans.

There are two options depending if people are comfortable shopping among a socially distanced group or if they would prefer a contactless experience.

Those who want to hand-select their plants can sign up for a 30-minute window between 10 a.m. and noon (spots between 9 and 10 a.m. have already been reserved) to shop. 

Program manager Dylan Wilson said each window will only have a maximum of 30 shoppers along with up to 15 staffers spread out across the one-acre garden.

"Everything that we'll be selling will be edible plants: tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, very typical summer crops," he said.

There will also be fine herbs such as dill, parsley, cilantro, fennel and more. Flower starters will also be sold including zinnias, cosmos and bachelor's buttons (aka cornflowers).

All plants, regardless of size, will be sold for $3 each. The $6 admission fee also includes one plant.

Edible Schoolyard Kern County Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($15) and local honey ($17) will also be available to purchase.

For those not sure where to start, Wilson said they have ideas for seasoned gardeners to newbies working with a potted garden.

"One of the best parts about our plant sale is our garden team helping out. There is someone from the garden at each station. This is the perfect time to come in as a first-time gardener. We have a very expert team."

Previous sales have featured children's games, food for purchase and other fun but that's on hold for this year. Wilson is looking forward to bringing those elements back when guidelines allow for social interaction among larger groups.

Those wanting to avoid crowds altogether can opt for the curbside pickup option. From 1 to 2 p.m., those with these tickets can follow the signs to an area where a member of the garden team will load their selected garden starter kit in their vehicle without the guest having to exit.

There are two kits from which to choose, each $30 (plus fee). The Summer Salad Gardening Kit comes with a six-pack of flowers, six-pack of lettuce, six-pack of fine herbs (parsley and dill), cherry and heirloom tomato plants, packet of radish seeds and sweet pepper, zucchini, sage and cucumber plants. Meanwhile the Salsa Gardening Kit comes with a six-pack of flowers, six-pack of lettuce, six-pack of cilantro, a full-size tomato plant, tomatillo and summer squash plants, packet of radish seeds and two each of hot pepper and sweet pepper plants. Both come with a planting guide and recipe(s) that utilize produce from the kit.

Wilson said the recipes inspired the kits.

"We created the recipes first," he said. "These are very seasonal options for the summer. What we wanted to be able to do was connect the vegetables and the plants the person was buying with the recipes. In each kit, they will receive a variety of plants to be able to connect it to the recipe in a farm-to-table cycle."

For the kits or sale entrance, tickets must be purchased in advance via Eventbrite links accessible from the ESYKC website.

The sale also gives parents a chance to get all the information about the upcoming summer camp, which is always a popular local draw and usually books up each session the day they are posted.

This year, enrollment will take place April 19 rather than the Monday after the sale, giving staff some time to finalize plans. Due to current day camp restrictions, group sizes will be reduced so don't delay if you want to snag a spot for your child, Wilson said.

Wilson expects between 750 to 1,000 plants will be sold, with the remainder of the 1,700-plant crop being donated to Apple Core Project's community garden, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, the CSUB Edible Garden and the CityServe garden currently under construction. 

This year's plant sale was made possible by Jim Burke Ford and Bank of America, which has been a longtime support of ESYKC.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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