The First Parish Plant & Craft fair offers great plants and a day of family fun from 10 am until 3 pm on Saturday, May 17. Begun 61 years ago, two participants, Marty Schafer and Jean Balfour, are offspring of the founders and remain the backbone of the plant area.
Marty Schafer and his wife Jan Sacks are professional plantsmen who moved to a “garden farm” in Carlisle after many years of maintaining garden plots around Bedford. They operate Joe Pye Weed Nursery http://www.jpwflowers.com/ where they breed and sell Siberian iris. Each year Marty and Jan share dozens of plant divisions from their garden at the fair, then spend time answering customer questions.
Jean Balfour scours wholesale nurseries from Sudbury to Kittery, ME, in search of wonderful plants to sell and organizes the plant area each year.
The fair also receives plant divisions that are the result of plants originally purchased at the fair, some that are divisions that Marty’s mother, Eva Schafer, gave to the fair almost 20 years ago. There will also be a “Grocery Garden” with heirloom tomato plants from Verrill Farm, herbs and veggie six-paks.
And the fair offers add-ons that make the day fun whether a visitor is a gardener or not:
a craft fair with more than three dozen vendors, including a table selling Free Trade coffee and chocolate;
a cookout lunch and outstanding bake sale, both prepared by First Parishioners;
the Chip-in Farm/Bedford 4H petting zoo;
face painting by First Parish youth and a seletion of used books gathered by Senior Minister John Gibbons;
live music by Ellen Groves, often of Fishken and Groves, and First Parish youth;
Jim Dichter, the Bubble Guy. Jim’s an interesting fellow from Waltham who creates massive and magical bubbles at DeCordova, Verrill Farm and the First Parish Plant & Craft Fair – http://www.yogile.com/bubblefun#41m
Bedford’s 61st Annual First Parish Plant and Craft Fair is a major church and community event that offers a large selection of Heritage Perennials gleaned from several generations of Bedford gardens along with a Grocery Garden of delicious tomato plants from Verrill Farm, fragrant herbs and vibrant veggies, the very healthiest ordinary nursery-grown and specialty annuals.
Heritage perennials have generously come from gardens around Bedford since the fair began. Some of the plants expected at this year’s event are granddaughters of the original cuttings that were purchased at the fair years ago.
To assure that the newly-dug transplants will be happily ensconced in their new pots and ready for sale at the fair on May 17, Plant Coordinator Jean Balfour, the daughter of one of the Fair’s founders, encourages gardeners to start the digging plants they would like to share this weekend.
“I see some signs of green poking up,” said Balfour, “so I’ll be digging some day lilies, blue bachelor buttons, lamium, iris, cranesbill geraniums, various kinds of phlox. Forget-me-nots are up and showing flower buds.” There will also be some May Apples that came originally from founder Eva Schafer’s garden. And one or two pots of the pink lilies of the valley that were reputedly brought to Bedford from Parish often make an appearance. Plants are particularly popular, Balfour noted, but trees and shrubs are also welcome. If you need containers or advice about what to dig, please call 275-4556.
In addition to the great plants, there also will be plenty of family fun, interesting artisans and crafters, Chip-in Farm’s 4H club petting zoo, and a few special surprises.
Planning for the 61st annual First Parish Plant and Craft Fair on May 17, 2014 is underway.
Sandy Boczenowski is taking reservations from returning, and newly found, crafters. If you’d like to investigate what it would take to bring your craft to Bedford Common and take part in the fun, click here to download the application/fact sheet.
And, before you know it, we’ll be selling pansies during coffee hour!
2014: The 61st Annual First Parish Plant & Craft Fair
Begun in 1953 with a small plant sale in a parishioner's yard, the fair has grown over time to include family fun, lunch, a bake sale and also a well-regarded craft fair.
In 2014 the plants will include hearty annuals grown locally as well as specialty annuals from Maine, a grocery garden, and heritage perennials from First Parish members' gardens.
This year's family fun will include live music, the Chip-In Farm/Bedford 4H Club petting zoo, face painting and spectacular bubbles by The Bubble Guy!