Gardeners brave chilly temperatures to grab local plants

In what's become a growing tradition

Bryan and Cheryl Wolf, along with hundreds of other people, look over the plants for sale at the Master Gardener's sale Saturday at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds.

Bryan and Cheryl Wolf, along with hundreds of other people, look over the plants for sale at the Master Gardener's sale Saturday at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

An hour before shoppers were invited into the Central Missouri Master Gardeners’ annual plant sale — which opened ten minutes earlier than advertised — Courtney Koenigsfeld and Teri Nugent nabbed first place in line.

“For a gardener, this is your Black Friday,” said Mike Hancock, who had been first in line the past five years.

Hancock’s father, Lewis, even arrived before Mike, still setting up a chair for his wife Evelyn within the first dozen shoppers.

The overcast Saturday morning was barely above freezing, yet more than 100 master gardeners were shuttling water buckets and making last minute arrangements of their plethora of plants.

The sole fundraiser for the local organization did not see a decrease in public turnout compared with previous years, as told by the line that reached from the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairground blue exhibit building entrance and began to wrap down the roadway.

Once inside, some shoppers like Koenigsfeld had a short, mental list. Others like Randee Kaiser and Ed Glawson were there specifically for the tomatoes. And many meandered, looking for something new or different.

“It’s pretty crazy, once you get in there,” Koenigsfeld said.

Nugent added, “it’s like a grocery store, you impulse buy.”

But the die-hards who braved the early morning and its not-so-traditional May temperature agreed the organization is worth supporting and the plants are worth waiting for.

“They’re healthy, acclimated to our area and haven’t traveled on a truck from some distance,” Kaiser said.

As the master gardeners group has expanded in member numbers and with its own greenhouse to start seeds in, their plant sale has become a tradition gardeners rely on.

The Hancocks have been coming for nearly a decade.

Although Mike Hancock considered not coming out this year, his children, ages 10 and 9, pleaded for their fresh-from-the-garden cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, he said.

The children will be expected to step up this year to tend the vegetable garden, as Hancock will be busy rebuilding his flower beds disturbed by installation of a ground source heating system, he said.

“They know what it takes to get their vegetables,” Hancock said. “For me, it’s great family time.”

Accompanying photo: Bryan and Cheryl Wolf at the sale

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