Annual Plant Sale and Berry Tea

For about 30 years our Plant Sale and Berry Tea has been a May long weekend fixture on Hornby Island. In 2017, the event will take place between 11 am and 3 pm on Sunday, May 21st. But planning for it began many weeks before.

Initial work begins mid-winter with reminders to members and regular plant donors to set aside plants and prepare seedlings and frozen berries for the Tea. As we get closer to the event day, our posting area is a hive of activity as we prepare. Phone lines are busy as we line up volunteers. One or more work parties are held to make sure our grounds are beautiful. The Plant Sale and Berry Tea functions smoothly but only with the help of volunteers for parking (5), cashiers (8) tea servers (8), set up and take down (8) and a myriad of smaller organizational duties that are done by your directors.

Things really start to come together on the Friday, two days before the event, when all the final potting is done, we take stock of all our plants, price tags are written. Saturday is set-up day. Shelters are set up for the plants, and for the Berry Tea consumers as well as for the cashiers, master gardeners and ticket sales. Heavy tables and planks have to be moved to hold the plants. Lighter tables and chairs for the have to be arranged for the Berry Tea. A wash-up area is prepared. And finally, the plants have to be moved to the shelters. Typically, the many volunteers are able to call it a day by 3 pm.

On the day of the event, volunteers start to swing into action by 9:30. First the parking volunteers, armed with walkie-talkies guide the early customers into parking spots to the sides of the entry road and in the parking areas in the adjacent Heron Rocks Camping Co-op to which we owe a huge thankyou. As the visitors start to congregate, all the volunteers in their appointed places get ready for the onslaught of customers. There is always a rope around the plant shelter. At precisely 11 am, the rope is dropped and the plant sale is begun. Almost immediately, customers for the Berry Tea begin buying tickets and are served short cake smothered in berries and whipped cream by the island’s young girls.

The biggest rush is in the first hour of event. After that there is a slower, but steady, flow of customers. By 2 pm, the grounds have begun to clear and some unobtrusive taking down of facilities can begin. After the final hour, take-down begins in earnest and is usually complete within 90 minutes except for returning shelters and other borrowed equipment to their storage areas.

The annual Plant Sale and Berry Tea is hard work but it is Heron Rocks Friendship Centre’s biggest single fundraiser. The community rewards us and we, in turn, enrich the community through our awarding of bursaries to our youth and our sponsorship of events.

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