Event: Women’s Institute Plant and Bake Sale, May 3

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The Women’s Institute’s annual Plant and Bake Sale takes place Saturday, May 3, from 9am until noon, in the Pemberton Legion parking lot.

For those in the know, it is the best place to pick up Pemberton-tested plants and seeds, and then to recover from the frenzy at the baking and concession stand inside the Legion.

As Dave Steers says so perfectly in his photo-set from last year, “if you’re not there on time, you’re too late.”

Dave Steers captures the WI Plant Sale 2013

Dave Steers captures the WI Plant Sale 2013

The tradition began in the 1970s and the prices haven’t varied much over the years.

Perhaps it’s because the Pemberton Women’s Institute, one of the community’s longeststanding organizations, serving Pemberton since 1940, and the plant sale has been going for over 30 years. The WI is affiliated with the BC Women’s Institute, which itself goes back to 1897.

The Pemberton group has just over 20 members, aged between 13 and 90-something, who gather once a month, and host the annual Plant and Bake Sale, the Strawberry Tea and the Country Fair, to raise money for community organizations. “We give out thousands of dollars every year and we have never turned down any group who has asked us for help,” explains President Linda Welsh.

In addition to providing an annual bursary to a Pemberton Secondary School student, the WI helps Pearl’s Safe House, Pemberton Food Bank, BC Children’s Hospital, Pemberton Health Care Foundation, BC Women’s Hospital, Covenant House, Salvation Army, Pemberton Library, Pemberton Museum, and the Pemberton Legion. Other beneficiaries over the years have included the local school lunch programs, Grizzlies Football Team, Dragonboat Team, Firefighters, Pemberton Seniors, High School Basketball Team, Brownies and Guides, 4-H Club.

Here are some great gardening tips that President Linda Welsh shared last time I interrogated her.

What zone is Pemberton in?

Mostly zone 4 which will get you down to about -30 but we can get away with a lot of zone 5 and just know that we may lose them one year.  In recent years, our winters have not been as harsh as they used to be.

How does a person work out what grows well in Pemberton?

Trial and error.

Watch for zones which are usually on the tag at a nursery and if not, then ask in the store.  Here, our Nursery is excellent in bringing in stock that is suited to our area.  Of course, there is a huge variation in our area as well.  People can grow peaches down Lillooet Lake and in D’Arcy as well as apricots and other items that haven’t a hope of surviving a winter in the upper valley.  So, you will find plants in our local nursery that are not totally suited to the entire area.  The staff there are extremely knowledgeable.

When can people start planting by?

Some seeds can go in when the soil dries up enough to get on the garden and work it up, such as peas, radishes, beets, potatoes,spinach, carrots, lettuce, swiss chard. The soil needs to be warm for things like beans, squash and corn.  Seedlings of the cabbage family are fairly hardy but tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and peppers or anything the least bit tender have to wait until that last frost which is typically 24th of May weekend.  Some years, we don’t get a late frost but it is always a gamble to plant tender things out sooner.


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