AUSTIN – The 10th annual East Austin Garden Fair: A Passion for Plants will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16 at the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, 2608 Gonzales St. in Austin.
The fair is presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners and Austin Parks and Recreation.
The event is free and will feature a variety of information booths and children’s activities. There also will be a plant giveaway, free gardening materials and free soil screening for people involved in vegetable, fruit and herb gardening.
“At the fair, attendees will be able to ask experts about horticulture and gardening,” said Daphne Richards, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Travis County. “This fun, hands-on fair involves community members in creative, low-cost ways to grow foods to improve the family diet, as well as providing them an opportunity to get information about Earth-Kind landscaping. Earth-Kind landscaping combines the best of traditional and organic techniques and emphasizes the reduced use of chemicals.”
She said Travis County Master Gardeners will provide information on a variety of horticulture topics, while community partner organizations will offer information on closely-related services, programs and projects.
“The fair’s do-it-yourself and demonstration activities will include building a rain barrel, constructing a raised bed garden area or compost bin, plus learning about best irrigation methods and how to garden using containers and straw bales,” she said. “Attendees can also learn how to care for their houseplants and garden tools and learn about backyard chickens and beekeeping.”
Richards said a new offering at this year’s event will be the free soil screening for food — vegetable, fruit and herb — gardeners offered through Austin Resource Recovery.
To have soil tested for metals, pH and nutrients, attendees need to bring a 2-cup soil sample in a quart-size zip-lock bag. Instructions for soil sampling can be found at http://austintexas.gov/soilkitchen.
Free vegetable, herb and ornamental plants will be given to attendees while supplies last as a way to encourage continued interest in horticulture and healthful eating, she said.
Long-standing community partners and new participants in the fair include the Sustainable Food Center, Capital Area Food Bank, Green Corn Project, Home Depot Kid’s Workshop, Austin Public Library, Austin Resource Recovery, City of Austin-Urban Forestry, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin Herb Society, 4-H CAPITAL AmeriCorps, Travis County 4-H, Travis County Master Wellness Volunteers, Travis County Cooperative Extension Program-Prairie View A&M University and Brite Ideas – Aquaponics, Hydroponics and Organics.
For more information, call 512-854-9600 or go to http://bit.ly/1RxVUN3.