Perky volunteers peddle plants at annual Leach Garden sale

Find out why folks come to the outer East Portland school from far and wide to purchase treasured plants …

Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter, and Leach Garden Friends Board Member Nana Bellerud, welcome shoppers to the annual sale.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Cars, vans, and trucks streamed into the Hazelwood neighborhood – and into the parking lot of Floyd Light Middle School – on the morning of April 4 to attend the annual Leach Botanical Garden Plant Sale.

“This generates the largest gross revenues of any of our fundraising activities,” remarked Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter.

Shoppers examine, and purchase, plants at this year’s Leach Botanical Garden sale.

“It is also significant, because it connects a large number of people with the mission of the garden,” Porter told East Portland News. “When they come shopping, they get a better understanding and appreciation of the plants at the garden, and learn more about what grows well in our environment.”

Although Leach Botanical Garden is owned by the City of Portland, and managed by Portland Parks & Recreation, the plant sale helps its volunteers, who are members of the non-profit Leach Garden Friends group.

Volunteers Amy Miller Dowell and Ruth Lund spend a moment with Plant Sale Coordinator Jim Berry.

Although he’s been involved with Leach Garden Friends for more than a decade, this is the first year Jim Berry has actually chaired the sale, he said.

“Being that this is my first time doing this, it is an exciting and involving experience,” Berry said. “As many as 70 volunteers work on some part of the project, and we have 50 volunteers here helping out at the event itself, today.”

These happy plant sale shoppers, Kim Cantwell-Gab and Dave Gab, say they drove over from Vancouver for the sale.

This year’s sale featured 18 plant vendors, Berry observed, as well as 660 plants from the Leach Botanical Garden itself that were offered for sale.

“Everyone seems to be doing very well – both the shoppers and the vendors!” grinned Berry, taking stock of the mid-morning showroom traffic in the cafetorium of Floyd Light Middle School. “Even with four cashiers working quickly, there are check-out lines!”

Scores of unusual plants give shoppers plenty of choice – making it difficult for some to decide on a purchase.

Asked why so many volunteers work so hard on the sale, Berry paused to gather his thoughts. “This garden is so much more than ‘just a place in Southeast Portland’. It’s that simple. We all want this garden to continue to be the special place we love.”

He enjoys seeing so many people work well together Berry said. “We have [Multnomah County Corrections] Community Service people helping out, working with Key Club school kids – along with older folks. It’s good seeing several different generations of people working together, and getting along real well.”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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