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Extension Snapshots

Extension Master Gardeners host plant sales to share gardening expertise and locally grown plants

2000 plants for sale displayed in Master Gardener's driveway

The arrival of spring brings a renewed interest in gardening, but many first-time gardeners may be unsure where to start. University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) from Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties share their love and knowledge of horticulture by hosting plant sales in the community. Two annual plant sales are EMG Susan McCabe’s St. Jude fundraiser sale in Pekin and Peoria EMG sale at Metro Centre in Peoria.

Susan leads a team of EMGs to hold this plant sale every spring in Pekin. This year’s event had 2,000 plants available and raised over $7,000 with all proceeds donated to St. Jude’s Children Hospital and Midwest Food Bank. Prospective buyers were able to browse a large selection of plants labeled with growing requirements and also to ask advice from Extension Master Gardeners.

“We were able to answer a wide variety of gardening questions; everything from which plants grow in shade to why my tulips might not be coming back,” explained Susan. “We also encouraged people to try new things and include some native plants to support pollinators.”

Leftover plants were donated to a new native plants demonstration garden being installed at Fulton County Farm Bureau in Lewistown.

In addition to organizing the plant sale, Susan also maintains seven public gardens in Pekin. Joining Susan in the plant sale project are EMGs Jennifer Bass, Roberta Whipple, Margie Finn, Cathy Endress, Tracey Greenwood, and Fran Stroemer.

A Master Gardener plant sale is also hosted in Peoria every year at Metro Centre. EMG Karla Kane reported a very large crew of volunteers who worked together to do everything from start seeds all the way through the process of cleaning up after the event.

“There were many stages to this project with lots of contributions. No matter how big or small they may seem they all make this project come together so seamlessly,” Karla wrote. The weather, wide variety of plants, and wonderful people made the event a success.

Both plant sales aim to offer buyers plants that have successfully been grown locally, and the expert advice from Master Gardeners to encourage more gardening.


Local plant sales hosted by Extension Master Gardeners encourage more gardening by providing plants that have been successfully grown locally in conjunction with expert advice from Master Gardeners. This year plant sales were held in Pekin and Peoria. Pictured above is a sample of the 2,000 plants offered at the sale held in Pekin.


In 2021, Tara Heath joined the University of Illinois Extension team as horticulture program coordinator for Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. She coordinates volunteer opportunities and horticulture programs for volunteers serving their communities through service projects and delivery of educational programming. She works closely with 150 Master Gardeners as they complete continuing education and work with our partners on projects such as demonstration and community gardens.

Tara received her Bachelor’s degree in agriculture with an emphasis in horticulture from Western Illinois University. She has over 20 years of experience in landscape management, having served as the Superintendent of Grounds at Western Illinois University. 


Extension Snapshots are monthly impact reports that share the stories of our programs in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. To have them delivered to you directly sign up using our E-blast registration.



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