DOVER-FOXCROFT — In recent years, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s tree and plant sales have evolved significantly. Selling is now a new and improved system to support and showcase local organic farms and their produce.
DOVER-FOXCROFT — In recent years, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s tree and plant sales have evolved significantly. Selling is now a new and improved system to support and showcase local organic farms and their produce. The Tree & Plant Sale is one of our largest fundraisers, helping to keep the overall operations of PCSWCD healthy as we strive to do more free and affordable conservation programs in the area.
The sale provides an opportunity to generate income while giving back to our local farmers and highlighting the availability of local organic plants and trees in our county. Buying local not only helps our economy but also benefits our native wildlife and gardens by planting native, perennial and pollinator-friendly plants. Introducing beneficial insects and pollinators into our gardens will help increase our harvests of fruits, berries, flowers, vegetables and forests! It’s a win, a win for everyone involved!
Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, customers picked up their plant and tree orders at the USDA Service Center, where the Piscataquis County SWCD is also located. The office smelled earthy and the plants were all laid out on a tarp that took up much of the office floor as we patiently waited all week for customers to collect their orders.
In 2020, we decided to partner with the Piscataquis Regional Food Center to offer a Soil Health for Gardeners Day to bring together other organizations such as UMaine Extension Piscataquis County, Jackson Regenerative Farms, Natural Resources Conservation Services and the Garden in the Box” would be demonstrated by PRFC. Unfortunately due to the disruptions in the world at the time this was canceled and we were forced to offer a secure curbside pickup facility at the PRFC. Despite the change of plan, the fundraiser was successful as many people wanted to support us and our partners featured in the sale. We’ve seen people’s desire to garden and get outside increase in the spring and summer of 2020.
In 2021, online orders, Zoom meetings, events were happening remotely and people were still social distancing and enjoying the great outdoors more than ever! The world stayed upside down and people continued to figure out how to maneuver without changing the things they loved and made sacrifices to be comfortable in their lives. We knew we needed to move our sales online to keep up with ever-changing times. Switching to online ordering has also saved us a lot of paper, time and money as we no longer had to print out the beloved catalog (we know some of you still miss it!).
Although online ordering was a transition, we got through it and in 2021 we were able to offer new products like Haleys Inc. Landscaping Material and Blueberry Lawn from Sunkhaze Farms. We have continued our strong partnerships with North Branch Farms, Checkerberry Farms and Ripley Farms for our organic perennial flowers, herbs, shrubs and fruit trees. Again, the sale was a hit – we doubled the number of customers from last year and tripled our income – and showed us how much interest people were generating. The pickup took place at the Law Farm Nature Trails where PCSWCD staff and the NRCS soil scientist were on hand to answer questions about soil health tips for gardeners.
Last year we planned a dedication ceremony for our newly built educational classroom at Law Farm Nature Trails and decided to combine the grand opening of the classroom with our tree and plant sale pick-up along with a ‘Soil Health Day’. Event we had longed for for so long. Sales remained a great success as customers began to come to us for quality plants from our trusted growers. The idea of having a fruit tree pre-sale which we started in February was spot on as we sold all our trees and raised money for PCSWCD’s own educational apple orchard which is now being planted and tagged at Law Farm continued growth of our overall fundraising efforts.
Joining us for Soil Health Day 2022 were our partners NRCS Soil Scientists, Thompson Free Library, UMaine Extension Piscataquis, accompanied by the Timberdoodle Band, Piscataquis County Chamber of Commerce and Cub Scout Pack 61. It was an unforgettable day!
This year we have evolved yet again and are offering a new and improved online ordering system with our fruit tree pre-sale. We have a delicious selection of apple and pear trees and in March we will be opening our full tree and plant sale with our favorite growers Checkerberry Farms, Ripley Farms and North Branch Farms. As well as offering perennials and fruit trees, we will be expanding to offer local organic vegetable seedlings with a new producer you may already know, Marr Pond Farm! To add to the excitement, we will also be offering Frasier Fir seedlings from Halls Christmas Tree Farm! The staff at PCSWCD are thrilled to keep our sale going in 2023 and are here to improve the ways we can keep this offering simple, affordable, interesting and local.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and our farmers in the past. We look forward to serving you again and hope to see new customers this year! More information about our tree and plant sales can be found online at www.piscataquisswcd.org and for those who still prefer to order in person, we are at 42 Engdahl Drive, Dover-Foxcroft, ME to assist you with the process . Here’s to another year of our favorite tree and plant sale fundraiser!