SELECTING THE RIGHT PLANTS

Flower Day Weekend draws crowds to downtown market

5/27/2013
BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Olivia Marsh of Oregon arranges geraniums grown at Knitz Greenhouse of Oregon, one of the vendors Sunday at the Toledo Farmers’ Market during its 24th annual Flower Day Weekend.
Olivia Marsh of Oregon arranges geraniums grown at Knitz Greenhouse of Oregon, one of the vendors Sunday at the Toledo Farmers’ Market during its 24th annual Flower Day Weekend.

Rachel Sortor of LaSalle, Mich., brought a toy wagon in which to haul around her plant purchases, while some people walked around balancing flats of flowers.

Others just tipped the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 to store their potted and hanging plants at the “customer pickup.”

Sunday was the second day of the annual Flower Day Weekend sponsored by the Toledo Farmers’ Market. The event continues today from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The first year we didn’t [bring a wagon] but then we got with the program,” said Ms. Sortor, 33, a purchasing assistant at a factory who shopped in the main aisle of the market in Toledo’s downtown Warehouse District.

She, her mother, and her niece had bought elephant ear, mosquito, and watermelon plants, and flowers to make into a hanging basket.

“I think people come here and they don’t think they’re going to buy as much as they end up buying,” Ms. Sortor said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Farmers' Market Flower Day Weekend

Products included flats and baskets of flowers, pots of heirloom vegetables and herbs, spring vegetables, and garden art, and other highlights included refreshments as well as live music.

Young gardener Peyton Burnor, 9, looks for flowers with her grand-parents, Joanna and Jim Burnor, all of Toledo, during Flower Day Weekend at the Toledo Farmers' Market.
Young gardener Peyton Burnor, 9, looks for flowers with her grand-parents, Joanna and Jim Burnor, all of Toledo, during Flower Day Weekend at the Toledo Farmers' Market.

One of the new vendors was the Michigan Native Butterfly Farm of Petersburg, Mich. Co-owner Tamara Menas had a screened-in tent to display living monarch butterflies, and was selling a variety of native plants and potted plants that attract butterflies.

She said her part in the new business started by her breeding butterflies and releasing them at celebration events such as weddings and birthdays.

Greg Shoemaker and Darlene Michalski of Rathbun Drive, near Toledo Hospital, talked native plants and butterflies with Ms. Menas.

“The butterflies in the tent caught my attention,” said Mr. Shoemaker, 66. “This was a surprise.”

Said Ms. Michalski, 58: “She knows her stuff. She has a lot of good tips about butterflies.”

“We look forward to this. You might find some plants that you won't see elsewhere,” Ms. Michalski said.

Another new business at the Farmers’ Market this year was Chuviscco, owned by Gilda Bacila of Brazil who is a recent new permanent resident in the United States. Her product, made with the help of her daughter, medical school student Ana Pantel, is a chocolate Brazilian dessert.

Arturo and Vivian Flores of Toledo look at a pamphlet with photos, descriptions, and information on the many heirloom tomatoes, in the foreground, that Andy Keil Greenhouse offers.
Arturo and Vivian Flores of Toledo look at a pamphlet with photos, descriptions, and information on the many heirloom tomatoes, in the foreground, that Andy Keil Greenhouse offers.

This festival is only their second outing of their business that developed just because people kept asking for the tasty treats.

“We had an order for a friend’s birthday party,” Ms. Pantel said. “We thought maybe we should have a Web site and a Facebook page.” The delicacies are sold four in a box tied with a ribbon.

Andy Keil, owner of Andy Keil Greenhouse in Swanton, said a popular item was heirloom tomatoes — so named because they are “old-time tomatoes before they were genetically altered,” according to Mr. Keil said. “They’re better for you,” but they don't stay ripe as long as newer breeds.

“We’re a little down compared to other years because it’s a nice day and people are out and about,” Mr. Keil said. One of his employees estimated he had as many as 20,000 plants for sale.

Mayoral candidates Alan Cox, an independent, and Opal Covey, a Republican, took advantage of the crowds to collect signatures for their petitions to get on the Sept. 10 primary ballot. Ms. Covey declined comment.

“It’s an opportunity to introduce myself and make my key points,” said Mr. Cox, a longtime city employee, who was with his wife, Tracey. One of his key points is to “professionalize” the mayor’s office.

Boy Scout Troop 68, based at Greenwood Park off Alexis Road, ran the customer pickup booth for tips.

“We use the money to buy new tents, or if some boys are short of funds to go on a campout we help them out, and Boy Scout awards,” said Ed Taylor, assistant scoutmaster.

Dan Madigan, executive director of the farmers’ market, said as many as 20,000 people showed up each of the first two days of the three-day event. This year there were 82 exhibitors.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.