April 1 update. We will keep updating this page as needed.
We all love the Friends School Plant Sale. The year-round volunteers who plan and run the sale would hold our regular sale somehow, if we could, but for 2020:
There is no plant sale at the State Fair Grandstand
on Mothers Day weekend
Here are the questions we've been asked the most:
If you aren't having a sale, why do you still list plants in the "Find Plants" section with prices? And why can I still make a shopping list?
We're sorry we can't make that part of our website reflect the current reality. The answer is long and technical, but the short version is: If we made those part of the site disappear, it would make it more difficult and expensive to bring the website back for regular use next year. In the meantime, the plant pages remain as a resource for everyone to use and shoppers can refer to their shopping lists. (Note: the plant varieties still shown in "Find Plants" include at most two-thirds of the plants that would have been at the 2020 sale as we had planned it, and the list may continue to change and decrease.)
If you can't have all the shoppers in the Grandstand, why don't you do orders through your website with curbside pickup instead (or do mail-order, or call-in orders, or use delivery or shipping)?
Each of these options is a huge logistical challenge. In a regular year, we bring together 250,000 plants from 50 different growers. After the State Fair canceled all events through mid-May, we tried to configure a warehouse-based pre-order sale with curbside pickup. Committee volunteers worked on it full-time, so know that we worked very hard to keep a version of the sale we all love! However, creating a this type of operation with the number of plants we have—and assuming spatial distancing of volunteers is still recommended—would require 24-hour-a-day work by volunteers for weeks, starting in mid-April. Additionally, many of our core-operations volunteers are over 60, some with underlying health concerns, and in general we cannot ask any of our volunteers or shoppers to risk their health. One year’s sale is not worth the risk.
The three-hour Zoom meeting between the Plant Sale Committee and the School Committee (the school's board of directors) where the general decision was made was agonizing, balancing our responsibility to the community, our growers, and the school.
Can the growers list their plants through your website and then have bulk orders for pickup, such as in lots of $100-$250 or more?
Since the growers are generally wholesalers, they aren't set up to deal with the public in the (relatively) small quantities that regular gardeners would be ordering -- even $100 to $250. Possibly more importantly, they're mostly 1-3 hours away from the cities, and in different directions, which would make it hard for customers to pick up. Additionally, our website is not set up to "know" which plant comes from which grower, so it couldn't help customers make a list limited to just one grower. Note: The growers who do have retail locations are listed at the end of this page—please support them!
Have you thought of doing a CSA-box or "grab bag" type of sale, selling by full flats that contain a mix of edibles and flowering plants, priced per flat?
This has the same requirement of a large setup with volunteers working over a long period of time as described above to make it possible to “pull” the plants into the grab bag flats, plus the added unknown of whether shoppers would want these grab bags as much as plants they specifically choose.
Why don't you just delay the sale?
Several reasons: The plants keep growing out of their pots, the growers have schedules also, and no one knows that the limit on large events won't be extended. And the pandemic itself is a wildcard — no one knows when it will decrease.
What will you do with all the plants you had arranged with growers and were planning to sell?
We have cancelled orders from large national growers and we are working with our local partner-growers to get their finished plants into other wholesale "channels." If they have their own retail outlets, they are listed below.
Will this have a negative impact on Friends School of Minnesota?
Yes. The plant sale is a fundraiser that covers about a fifth of the school's total budget, and goes to scholarships that have already been used during this school year. On top of the loss of the income from the sale, the school has already incurred expenses related to this year's sale. See below, How can I help?
Will this have a negative impact on the growers?
Yes. We have worked with many of our growers for decades and most are small businesses within three hours of the Twin Cities. Honestly, it has been devastating to talk with them about this and try to find a way through it. They care deeply about the sale and the plants, and depend on the income from the sale as much as the school does.
What about the volunteers?
We love our volunteers and hope they understand why it has taken us a while to respond. We haven't known, ourselves, what's happening from one day to the next, or even one hour to the next. We know the sale is deeply rooted in the Twin Cities gardening community and we feel a strong responsibility to everyone, shoppers and volunteers alike.
What about the Garden Fair and the exhibitors?
The Garden Fair is also cancelled. Most of our exhibitors have enthusiastically participated in our event for many years. They are local small businesses, artisans, and nonprofit groups that rely on events like the plant sale to attract customers for their garden-related products. Losing this opportunity will affect their income. We encourage you to see the listing on the Garden Fair page. If you're interested in the items they sell, please contact them directly.
Will there be a sale next year?
We fully intend to have a plant sale at the Grandstand on Mother's Day Weekend in 2021.
What can I do with my gift certificate?
Your gift certificate will be honored at our sale in May 2021.
Where can I buy plants from your growers this year? Where can I buy neonic-free plants?
Bolded names are growers for Friends School Plant Sale.
- Green Earth Growers in Prior Lake has its own retail shop with online ordering and curbside pickup, opening on Earth Day, April 22. Visit them and ask about their sustainable growing practices! (Vegetables, herbs, annuals, hanging baskets.)
- Glacial Ridge Growers may be at the St. Paul Farmers Market in Lowertown on weekends; they are not sure yet. But if they are, they sell a wide range of their native perennials, perennials, grasses, annuals, and vegetables. We will update this when we know if they are going to be there.
- North Star Seed and Nursery in Faribault, not far from I-35, is a full-line nursery with perennials, shrubs, annuals, vegetables, vegetable seeds, and especially succulents. 507-334-6288 for directions and hours. Worth a half-day trip!
- South Cedar Garden Center in Farmington. Annuals, herbs, and perennials, including ground covers. Open from late April to October.
- Hidden Springs Flower Farm in Spring Grove, Minn. Shrubs, peonies and unusual and rare plants (including the Orchid Cactus we had last year). If you're in our Facebook group, Hidden Springs has posted there with more info.
- Garfield Gardens (All Daylilies) in Lonsdale. Great selection of daylilies grown on their farm, which is open for visits to see the blooming daylilies in July.
- Prairie Restoration in Princeton. Native perennials and display gardens.
- Schulte's Greenhouse & Nursery in St. Michael. Shrubs and trees, general nursery with display gardens, not far from I-94.
- Many of our local food co-ops have plant sales in May and June, especially Mississippi Market's W. 7th Street location and Hampden Park Co-op in St. Paul and the Wedge on Lyndale and Eastside on Central Ave. NE in Minneapolis. Ms. Market and Hampden Park purchase all of their plants from our primary growers, with the Wedge and East Side getting some of their plants from our growers.
- Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply on Selby Ave. in St. Paul gets all of its smaller potted plants (4.5" pots and smaller) from our growers.
- Mother Earth Gardens has two locations in Minneapolis. Almost all of its smaller potted plants (4.5" pots and smaller) are from our growers. They have online ordering and curbside pickup setup!
- Heidi's GrowHaus in Corcoran, Minnesota carries annuals, perennials, vegetables, and shrubs.
- Most locally owned garden centers in St. Paul and Minneapolis are neonic-free, and often buy plants from our local growers as well. Ask them!
- The more demand created for our growers' plants at all Twin Cities and Minnesota garden centers, the more that will help the growers as the nurseries have to restock!
If you know of another neonic-free retail garden center in the Twin Cities, send their name to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add it here.
How can I help?
- Support Friends School of Minnesota. If you want this small school with the big plant sale to be around for future years and future sales, consider donating to the school to help make up the deficit this unforeseen event is creating. We will keep you updated on the outcome.
- Sign up for our email list or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date.
- Support our growers by buying plants at the other nurseries where they sell plants (list below).
- Grow food for yourself, your friends, and your neighbors.
Thank you for supporting the Friends School Plant Sale as we all deal with this tremendous crisis in our country and our world. If you have a question or suggestion not covered in this FAQ, please email email@example.com or call 651-621-88930.
Please stay well!