Help Your Garden Grow: Visit the Spring Garden Fair | Cherokee, NC

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Help Your Garden Grow: Visit the Spring Garden Fair

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes. Photo courtesy of Sue O’Bryan & Foodlander

To mark the beginning of the growing season, the second annual Spring Garden Fair will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 7–8. Free and open to the public, this event will offer vendors, demonstrations, classes, educational materials, door prizes, and much more.

Jody Bradley started the Fair last year in hopes of helping people get the supplies and guidance they needed for their gardens. “I wanted a place for people to buy yard art, seeds, plants, a lawn mower, whatever they wanted to buy.” Now a grower herself, Jody was raised by parents who gardened.

Uniquely Cherokee

Jody, who lives at a high elevation, has several raised beds. “If you live high on the mountain, you garden differently than if you lived in the valley.” She describes certain varieties of purple tomatoes and heirloom seeds as “uniquely Cherokee.” One of the vendors, Long Family Farms and Gallery, will bring with them the Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, Cherokee purple tomatoes, Cherokee green tomatoes, Cherokee tan pumpkin, and a variety of Cherokee October beans.

There isn’t just one way to garden. “You can still garden in a raised bed even if you’re 80 years old because you don’t have to bend over so much,” says Jody, who adds that container gardening is a great way to raise plants when space is limited.

When she’s not gardening, Jody spends her time painting and primarily depicts petroglyphs, such as those found at Judaculla Rock in Sylva, Track Rock in Georgia, and Hagood Mill in South Carolina. She works under the name Legend Weavers Studio. “I tell stories through my paintings ... I pick out certain symbols on the rock that I think are really cool and I paint them in bright colors. I give them a modern twist.”

Cherokee Trail of Tears Black Beans. Photo by Edsel Little

Learning from the Pros

Guests will not only bring home something new for their garden—such as seedlings or flowers—but will also take away some tips. On Friday afternoon, Chumper Walker, director of EBCI Cooperative Extension, will lead “Everything LAWN,” which will cover growing and maintenance. He shares, “I will be talking about soil testing for your pH and nutrient levels, best grass selection for your site, pests and diseases, mowing height, and more.” “Composting and Vermicomposting” will be presented by Joey Owle, Agricultural Agent with EBCI Cooperative Extension.

Nancy Myers Brown will teach a class on how to build your own fairy garden. She will also have some fairy gardens available for purchase. Representatives from the BIA Forestry, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and FoodCorps will also be present.

Grow & Row

Do you think you’ll have a surplus of crops this year? Want to share the fruits of your labor with those in need? With sponsorship from the Vice Chief Richie Sneed, Jody runs the giving and learning program, Grow & Row, in Cherokee. Volunteers make a commitment to raise and harvest a crop to help fight hunger in the community. They’ll plant extra rows of vegetables, such as spaghetti squash or corn, to be taken to distribution points in the community for those who need them. For more information, visit their Facebook page or sign up at the Fair.

Want to go?

The Spring Garden Fair takes place at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds, 545 Tsali Blvd. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Food provided by the ladies of the American Legion Auxiliary will be available for purchase. This event is sponsored by Legend Weavers Studio and the Principal Chief Patrick Lambert.

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