Wed, April 08

Garden Party: Spring Planting Festival an opportunity to have fun, prune your skills

In spite of all the recent rain, cooler than usual days and continuing morning frost, you can't help but notice that change is in the air.

And why not, it is the Ides of March. Spring is peeking around the corner, and our thoughts, at least those who live to plant, are turning from inside, out.

Two years ago, a group of gardeners sensing an agricultural renaissance was emerging began a festival to help everyone get their gardening juices flowing.

They called it he Sedona Verde Valley Spring Gardening Festival.

The second annual edition of that garden party begins this Sunday, March 14, with a concert by William Eaton and the Wilde Boys and continues through the following weekend, culminating with the Backyard Gardeners Expo at Cottonwood's Old Town Centre for the Arts.

Sponsored by Gardens for Humanity, a valley based organization dedicated to the agricultural renaissance that has swept the Verde Valley.

With farmers' markets taking place valley wide, community supported d agriculture organizations a rapidly growing number of backyard gardens tended by backyard gardeners taking care of their own, the movement has more than sprouted wings. It has soared.

The Spring Planting Festival got its start in 2008 at a forum discussing the formation of a Sedona farmer's market and a community garden it has continued to grow from there.

"The idea of the Planting Festival was to follow up on the momentum generated by garden movement by offering a larger event," says founder Ruth Hartung.

After partnering with Gardens for Humanity, the festival grew to include events across the valley and a divergent collection of partners.

Among the partners helping put on events is the National Park Service, Coconino National Forest, Cottonwood Old Town Center for the Arts, the Hopi Garden Project, Sedona Schnebly Community Garden and 7 Centers Yoga.

The festival culminates in the Backyard Garden Expo in Cottonwood's Old Town on Saturday, March 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The expo will feature exhibitors, demonstrations, workshops and a chance to discuss you have you own questions answered by a team of Master Gardeners from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service.

For a complete listing of events, enrollment information (attendance at some events will be limited) and fees (most events are free) visit

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