Gardening extravaganza planned for Centre County

May 12, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Central Pennsylvania residents getting ready to prepare beds, plant plants and spruce up their landscapes can whet their gardening appetites by visiting the Garden Fair and Plant Sale hosted by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County.

The free annual event takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the Ag Progress Days site at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. The site is located 9 miles southwest of State College on state Route 45 and features plenty of free parking.

This year the Garden Fair and Plant Sale will be combined with a new Spring Festival hosted by Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum. The museum event will complement the Garden Fair with demonstrations, free tours and other activities.

The Garden Fair and Plant Sale — the major fundraiser for the Centre County Master Gardener program — will offer more than 5,000 plants, free educational garden talks and a large vendors' mart with unique garden products and foods. More information, including detailed plant lists, vendors and scheduled talks, is at the event website.

Proceeds from this event will help the Centre County Master Gardeners continue to offer outreach and gardening education to the public.

"If anyone needs to know what to plant, where to plant and when to plant, they will find answers at this event," said Molly Sturniolo, Master Gardener coordinator for Centre County. "Master Gardeners will be available to answer gardening questions, furnish advice and discuss garden, lawn, tree and insect problems."

Trained by Penn State Extension, Master Gardeners are volunteers who provide residents with research-based educational programs in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship. They greatly magnify the reach and ability of Penn State Extension to offer practical, how-to advice and problem-solving assistance.

Beginning at 10 a.m., three one-hour educational talks by two experts will cover garden, lawn and landscaping tips, gardening techniques, and fresh ideas for every gardener — from inexperienced growers to the greenest thumbs. Two of the presentations will feature a celebrity guest speaker, Pennsylvania garden author/columnist and horticulturalist George Weigel.

All talks are free thanks to the generosity of event sponsors. The schedule is as follows:

  • 10 a.m.: Smart Gardening: When to do What to Keep Your Yard Looking Great (or at Least Passable), by George Weigel.
  • 11 a.m.: Good Bugs/Bad Bugs, by Carla Haas, senior lecturer, Penn State Eberly College of Science, and Master Gardener.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Amazing Space: Great Home Gardens and What Makes Them Special, by George Weigel.

A wide assortment of garden tools, decor, supplies, garden accessories, landscape services and other unique products will make the vendor mart a must-stop place for visitors. The environmentally conscious will find environmental lawn, garden and home products and services. Attendees even can buy garden sheds and chicken coops.

A number of new food and condiment vendors will provide visitors with an opportunity to taste their food products or buy organic, native and heirloom plants. Breakfast and lunch items also will be available from the Sunrise Rotary Club of State College.

"We've planned so much for visitors to see, do and learn at the fair," said Sturniolo. "If they dash off after purchasing plants, they will miss a great deal."

Other planned activities include a silent auction featuring a truckload of mulch from JRS Landscaping and other valuable items from local merchants; a garage sale of many gently used gardening and gardening-related items; and tours of the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

Visitors also can register for door prizes at all three vendor areas. Organizers suggest that visitors bring a wagon or cart to transport their plants. A cool, shady, supervised spot will be provided where wagons and purchased plants can be parked while attendees move about the grounds.

Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener can contact his or her Penn State Extension county office. Centre County residents can contact Molly Sturniolo at

Centre County Master Gardener hotline volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to noon, at or 814-355-4897.

A complete statewide list of upcoming Master Gardener events is available on the program website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 12, 2016