The 56th annual Evanston Garden Fair, continuing today at Independence Park on Central Street, exemplifies Ralph Waldo Emerson’s statement that “the earth smiles in flowers.”

Members of The Lincolnwood Garden Club and the urban-agriculture advocacy group The Talking Farm are selling an array of flowers, vegetables, herbs and gardening tools at the fair.

The Talking Farm’s mission is to “operate a sustainable urban agricultural enterprise that provides fresh and locally grown food, job training, environmental education and related research, says the group’s farmer-in chief, Linda Kruhmin.

The group helped Evanston Township High School plant an edible acre to provide fresh produce to be sold in the cafeteria. A similar garden at Kingsley Elementary School is used their garden as an “outdoor classroom,” Kruhman says.

Members and volunteers for The Talking Farm assist customers in choosing from more than 2,000 plants and seedlings that are organic and grown locally. Herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, strawberries, raspberries, elderberries and perennials are for sale at the Talking Farm’s tents.

The organic strawberry plants sold at the fair are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and potassium and they are low in calories. The proceeds from the farm’s sales will go toward starting a farm on the Evanston-Skokie border that provides local communities with fresh produce.

The Lincolnwood Garden Club is selling annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, groundcover and hanging flower pots at the fair. The club has about 25 members who are master gardeners.

Judy Elsass, a member of the Lincolnwood Garden club likes growing organic herbs because she can pick the herbs fresh and use them immediately. “I make pesto out of the basil from my garden,” she says.

The Lincolnwood Garden club is selling organic-grown herbs such as sage, lavender, thyme, mint, basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano and many more herbs at the fair.

“I love everything about gardening. I like restoring native gardens, wildflowers, woodland gardens and prairie gardens,” said Jan Sherubel who has been a member of the Lincolnwood Garden Club for more than ten years and studied horticulture in college.

She explained that gardening is all about having “the right plant in the right place” and “a weed is a plant in the wrong place.” To maintain a weed free garden, Sherubel puts down a pre-emergent in the spring. She also digs out weeds or spot kills them.

Beginning gardeners should consider several questions before choosing plants for their garden, Sherubel says: How much time can I dedicate to maintaining the garden? What colored flowers do I prefer? How much sunlight shines in the area where my garden will be located?

The fair also includes sales of art, pottery and jewelry.

The garden fair opened Friday and ends today. Hours today are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Independence Park is at Central Street and Stewart Avenue, two blocks west of Green Bay Road.

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