Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College an annual favorite

With farmer’s markets, community gardens and urban farming  growing  ever popular among the health- and conservation-minded in East County, it’s no wonder the Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College has become such a major draw.
Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College
This year’s festival on Saturday, April 27, marks the 20th anniversary of the event, which began in 1993 as the Urban Forest Field Day, an outreach activity for arboriculture students to demonstrate what they’ve learned. From one course and a few visitors, the free festival has grown to become a showcase event for the college’s entire ornamental horticulture program, as well as the Heritage of the Americas Museum and the co-sponsoring Water Conservation Garden, both located on the Rancho San Diego campus. With the addition of local artisans, vendors, kid-friendly activities, and a variety of plant and garden societies, the festival now attracts about 7,000 visitors annually.
Admission, parking and Old Town Trolley transports between the activity sites are free for the 9 a.m.-4 p.m. event.
This year’s theme, “Urban Farming,” will be reflected throughout the festival, providing an opportunity for the public to learn about raising chickens, beekeeping, and more.
For the plant lover, it will be like Christmas in April, with the ornamental horticulture program’s student-run nursery having its biggest plant sale of the year, featuring a large assortment of ornamental and drought-tolerant plants. Sales from the nursery supplement the Ornamental Horticulture program’s regular funding, helping to pay for supplies and equipment. The nursery is a learning lab for students on the identification, care and landscape uses of Southern California’s ornamental trees and shrubs.
Faculty and students will give demonstrations and provide a bounty of information on the horticulture program and topics including floral design, landscape design, pest control, plant propagation, arboriculture, irrigation, plant identification and more.
“This Spring Garden Festival is perfect for showcasing Cuyamaca College’s years of commitment and investment in natural-resource conservation,” Cuyamaca College President Mark J. Zacovic said. “From our beautiful water- and energy-smart campus to the green-industry workforce training we provide our students, going green is hardly a new movement for us. We are so proud and delighted that our annual community celebration of spring, with its educational programs, exhibitors and demonstrations, has become such a signature event.”
Experts at the Water Conservation Garden will help visitors create the water-wise garden of their dreams, with demonstrations and presentations throughout the day.  An urban farm petting zoo, face painting, Ms. Smarty-Plants and her show, “The Magic of Water,” make this an event sure to entertain and inform the entire family. 
“Urban farming is growing in popularity as more and more people develop an interest in knowing where their food is coming from and what’s in the food they eat,” said Done Axe, owner of Valley View Farm, a small farm in Spring Valley that produces organic, locally sold vegetables and goat cheese, and serves as a demonstration and educational site for urban farming. Axe will be giving a cheese-making demonstration at the festival, and will be exhibiting dairy goats and other animals and produce from his farm.
Also at the Water Conservation Garden, a 20-minute landscape design consultation with a professional designer or architect is available for a $15 donation. Pre-register by calling (619) 660-0614.
Musical interludes and entertainment to go with the spring blooms will be provided by Cuyamaca College’s American Sign Language Choir and Grossmont College’s Jazz Combo. At the Heritage of the Americas Museum, performers include Eric Runningpath and the Inter-Tribal Dancers, and art shows and auctions will be available, including Rosendo Carillo Huichol bead art demonstrations.
 For more information about the Spring Garden Festival, go to www.cuyamaca.edu/springfest.