Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Forest Heights Community holds 10th annual Plant Swap

Forest Heights Neighborhood Association

Forest Heights Neighborhood Association

The 10th annual Forest Heights Community Plant Swap took place Saturday, May 20 on the grounds of Haskell Heights First Baptist Church. The scattered rain showers that started at 9:30 a.m. could not hold back the eager gardeners who showed up to swap their extra house plants, herbs, annuals, perennials, or shrubs and take home literally carloads of new treasures.

The garden exchange, hosted by the Forest Heights Neighborhood Association, began with the vision of Marie Pearson and Marie Martin, who have been celebrated by the community for the beauty of their home gardens and their willingness to share what they grow with others in the neighborhood and throughout the Columbia area. For many years, these ladies visited garden events hosted by the Columbia Garden Club and other organizations in the Midlands, but they yearned to have something similar in their own community. Soon, the Forest Heights Community Plant Swap was born. People travel from all over town even as far as Hopkins, Blythewood, and Winnsboro to attend this annual event.

Coding Comet volunteers

Coding Comet volunteers

This year’s exchange was co-planned by Ellen Anderson of the neighborhood association and Dr. LeConté’ Middleton of Middleton’s Hobby Farm and Garden. The plant swap continues to grow, attracting neighbors, friends, members of the county council, and even teenagers. Besides the large variety of perennial flowers and bulbs shared, the plant swap also featured vegetable starts and fruit-bearing plants gardeners can grow for food. Since the hobby farm is an established seed hub, there were plenty of seeds donated by Society of St. Andrews available to each participant.

Members of a local community robotics team, FRC Team #9315 Coding Comets served as volunteers.

Team members set up tables, sorted seeds, accepted and labeled plants, and helped participants load their items into their cars. Some were there long after to help clear the church grounds when the event was over.

After sharing a brief history of the event and recognizing a few representatives who were present, Anderson blew her infamous whistle at 10:20 a.m. Participants raced to choose their coveted items. Choices ranged from spider lilies to pinto beans to a purple spotted bellflower. Swappers also gathered around hoping to hear their ticket number called for door prizes. The youngest and eldest participants, aged three and 86 respectively, were first to choose amongst a smorgasbord of garden tools and supplies donated by the organizers and Lowe’s. While waiting for their numbers to be called several participants gathered around for a Q&A on canning and preserving food. Dr. Middleton, a member of the inaugural Master Food Preservers course offered by Clemson Extension, explained the process she uses when canning varied fruits and vegetables.

Everyone in attendance walked away with plenty of seeds to start new crops, their selection of new plants, and a door prize that will be useful in their planting season this year.

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