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Garden Variety HCC Alumni Association Again Sees Green

by Nathan Oravec

When the HCC Alumni Association hosts its Ninth Annual Flower & Garden Show next weekend, it will be with the hope of planting something more than flowers: the idea within each visitor that he or she can take steps in renewing and restoring this “Good Green Earth” of ours.

“We’re encouraging our exhibitors to stress recycling,” says Shirl Grattan, show staff, noting participants like the Scott Key Center of Frederick, who will share water-reuse ideas via rain barrel collection; and Milmar Plastics (see related story), Hagerstown’s home-grown plastic fabricator, slated to showcase an impressive line of recycled wares.

The show, says Grattan, is the brainchild of Professor Judy Kofoet, whose hard work and diligence were integral in launching the first fund-raiser some nine years ago. Benefiting the Alumni Amphitheater project, the show takes its bow Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16, and will once again be held in the community college’s 48,000 square foot Athletic, Recreation, and Community Center (ARCC) - and the early word is out: it’s going to be a full house. According to Grattan, over 100 vendors near and far (spanning six states) - including several newcomers - will take part, with many others comprising a lengthy waiting list should any last minute dropouts occur.

From nurseries, florists, and landscapers to lawn and garden needs, furniture, pottery and products for both man and beast, it seems this year’s offering promises to have it all, plus a little bit more. “We even have one vendor selling gourmet apples, which will be recycled into apple crisp,” Grattan laughs. “I guess that’s a little bit of a stretch, huh?”

“We have so many new vendors,” she exclaims. “I don’t even know where to start. There’s so much to see and there’s something for everyone.”

“We also have a full bill of seminars and demonstrators,” she adds - including blacksmiths, organic gardeners, tree doctors and more, as well as assembling the perfect “theme” garden courtesy of Castles in the Air; caring for bluebird boxes and trails; and even finding harmony in one’s garden via Feng Shui.

In addition, returning this year will be a children’s activity area - with Eco-educational fun and games for the short set - and the well-received Day in the Garden raffle, in which lucky patrons will win a garden makeover of their own. “Some of our past winners will be present at the Alumni booth,” says Grattan, “so that they can [tell visitors], ‘Do you know what they did last year in my garden?’”

A number of community vendors, she adds, will also be present, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Anita Lynn Home, Future Farmers of America and others, who are always a welcome addition. “This is really a community project, and we really appreciate it when members of the community [come out to help.] They make it possible for the show to come off as well as it does.”

“Easily over 100 volunteers,” from the Alumni Association itself, as well as the Honor Society and community youth “not even in college yet” committed their time, skill and effort to the production of this year’s show. Last year, the annual fund-raiser opened its doors to nearly 5,000 visitors, and Grattan and company hope to trump that figure this time around.

“People have to come!” she exclaims. “We have new people coming in and it’s very, very different this year. [It’s always] changing. Every year it gets better.”

Tickets are $4 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free. Hours for the 9th Annual Flower & Garden Show are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hagerstown Community College ARCC. For more information, call 301-790-2800, ext. 459 or 346.

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