Residents browse through rows of plants at the V.I. Audubon Society’s annual plant sales at the Nazareth Lutheran Church yard.
Orchids and herb and vegetable plants flew out of the Nazareth Lutheran Church yard on Saturday morning, March 5, as the V.I. Audubon Society hosted its 14th annual plant sale.
The group raked in $4,000 from the sale, which will go to fund a new viewing platform at the Small Pond at Frank Bay as well as the Audubon Society’s educational efforts.
“We also use the funds for educating the children,” said V.I. Audubon Society president Elaine Estern. “We work with the V.I. National Park and sponsor bus trips for students to go on field trips. We also send people into the schools to give kids information on local birds.”
Plant sale co-chairs Mary Moroney and David Spoth — and their spouses — worked for months growing some plants from seeds, propagating others and ensuring the orchids arrived on time, Estern added.
Organizers arrived at the Nazareth Lutheran Church yard at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to start unloading, Estern explained.
“By the time I arrived with my grandkids at 8:30 a.m., the orchids were all sold out,” she said.
In addition to the orchids, residents also snatched up herb and vegetable plants, explained Spoth.
“The biggest sellers were herb plants by far,” said Spoth. “We ran out of mint first, then Italian parsley and basil sold out too. Tomatoes sold really well also and there seemed to be a lot of interest in people growing their own food and herbs.”
Spoth donated about 600 plants himself and — thanks to donations from members and island gardeners — estimated that a total of around 1,000 plants were available for purchase at the sale.
This was the first year the group hosted its annual plant sale at the church, having relocated due to renovations at its traditional site in Frank Powell Park.
“The church yard worked out really well,” said Spoth. “It allowed us to do different things with the displays. We didn’t know how it would work with the park being closed, but in the end our numbers were the same as last year.”
“So it was a successful sale,” he said.
Spoth, who owns a garden center at his stateside home, starts propagating on St. John first in November during a short visit to the island. When he and his wife return to their Love City home in early January, he gets planting for the sale in earnest.
When Spoth and Moroney took over the plant sale last year, the fundraiser doubled in sales. Those figures remained the same this year, but Spoth already had some ideas for upping the sales next year.
“We could have sold more herbs and vegetable plants,” he said. “I think the demand is there. People were asking for peppers and more herbs, so we’ll see about that for next year.”
Spoth takes part in the plant sale for the pleasure of it and as a way to give back to the community, he explained.
“When I’m down here, I don’t have a business, so my wife and I volunteer for different things,” said Spoth. “It’s our way of helping and I enjoy it. And I think the plant sale also fills a little niche.