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Native Plant Festival Welcomes Conservation Oranizations

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Amber Haning, a Frostburg Grows staff member, happily displays freshly harvested greens from one of the high tunnel greenhouses located on a former coal mine in Allegany County. Engage Mountain Maryland (EMM) will be returning to The fifth annual Mountain Maryland Native Plant Festival at New Germany State Park in from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday May 12. There will be a large variety of plants native to the mid-Atlantic for sale all day long. Native plants and biodiversity will be the focus during various scheduled programs and activities. This event will also feature experts from local non-profit organizations who will answer questions on native plants and other conservation topics throughout the day.

With the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly, EMM will be sharing information and dispelling myths on this revolutionary crop that is eco-friendly and diverse in its uses. Attendees can learn about the difference between hemp and it's botanical cousin, marijuana. The US imports roughly $740 million in hemp goods annually that can take the form of lotions, creams, fabrics, papers, fuels, and more. It's estimated some 24,000 applications of hemp open the door on which farmers can capitalize.

Evergreen Heritage Center has been a staple organization that have greeted guests since the festival's beginning five years ago. Nestled in Mt Savage, Maryland, the Evergreen Heritage Center's 130-acre farm and surrounding forests provide an outdoor classroom for hands-on learning. Against the backdrop of its 18th century homestead and bank-style barn, Evergreen boasts acres of gardens and orchards, a pond, a high tunnel hoop house, an education center, a passive solar greenhouse, a timber frame outdoor pavilion, a sawmill, and numerous learning stations. From garden-focused healthy living programs to STEM field trips and summer camps, Evergreen provides a meaningful place for children and youth to learn, grow, and thrive. EHC will feature native plants and herbs, "Grow Your Own" Dirt Baby kits, hand-printed tea towels, and other hand-crafted natural and organic items.

Also returning for the fifth year is the Maryland Master Gardener Program, an exclusive program of University of Maryland Extension (UME). The principal goal is to train qualified residents to become certified Master Gardeners and serve as volunteer horticulture educators. The program’s mission is to educate Maryland residents about safe, effective, and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. If you have a thirst for knowledge and enjoy working with people and plants, you should become a Master Gardener! If you are part of a group that would enjoy learning more about gardening and would like the Master Gardeners to do a presentation or hands on demonstration, please contact the Extension office today!

The Maryland Conservation Corps (MCC) is returning for a fourth year. MCC is an award-winning AmeriCorps program that engages young adults in extensive natural resource management and park conservation projects. Managed by the Maryland Park Service since 1984, MCC provides members with opportunities for skill development and personal growth through a supportive, team-based environment, emphasizing the satisfaction of completing projects that benefit Maryland’s natural resources. MCC crew members will be assisting park staff at the event and leading family-friendly activities.

As pictured above, Frostburg Grows (FG) will be returning for their third year. Since their start in 2012 they have constructed high-tunnel greenhouses, provided gardening workshops, and grown thousands of pounds of healthy produce for the Western Maryland Food Bank and Frostburg Summer Lunch Box Program, all on a former coal mine near Frostburg. This year, FG will be expanding their community garden program and doubling the community growing space in high tunnel greenhouses. They will offer training workshops in food production skills including using high-tunnels for season extension, basic gardening including soils and pests, tractor operation, starting and running community gardens, and composting. They will have a variety of vegetable seedlings for sale including popular garden vegetables, germinated and grown with the help of Mountain Ridge High School students.

Returning for the second year is the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, represented by members of both the Frostburg State University Student Group and Western Maryland Group. The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 and is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the nation with more than 2.9 million members and supporters. Successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently Sierra Club has been leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy.

The Friends of New Germany State Park (FRIENDS) has been active in supporting New Germany State Park for over 20 years. This non-profit organization invites everyone interested in enhancing and preserving the beauty and quality of recreational resources of New Germany State Park to join. This gem of a park is nestled between the 2,900 ft. Big Savage Mountain to the east and the eastern Continental Divide along Meadow Mountain to the west. It offers a beautiful 13-acre lake, 10 miles of hiking and cross-county ski trails, recently updated rental log cabins, plentiful campsites, and many engaging programs and activities. FRIENDS members are encouraged to attend quarterly meetings and support the park actively through volunteer efforts or as donor members providing financial support.

The Western Mountains Chapter of the Maryland Native Plant Society (MNPS) is co-sponsoring this event along with New Germany State Park. MNPS promotes awareness, appreciation, and conservation of Maryland's native plants and their habitats, working to preserve Maryland's natural heritage through education, research, advocacy and service activities. MNPS sponsors programs, workshops, field trips and an annual conference. Membership is open to all who are interested in Maryland's native plants and their habitats.

For more information about the 2018 MT MD Native Plant Festival including directions and event schedule visit


Heritage Evergreen Center


Maryland Master Gardener Program

Ashley Bodkins

University of Maryland Extension in Garrett County


Maryland Conservation Corps

Frostburg Grows

Visit their allied project Western Maryland Food Council

Western Maryland Sierra Club

Deidre Lally

Friends of New Germany State Park

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