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It's a "fire sale" for plant lovers!

Rumney Fire Auxiliary Plant sale gets the season off to a great start

: Local gardeners “in the know” swarm to the Rumney Fire Department Auxiliary’s annual Mother’s Day Weekend Plant Sale to help raise money for the Fire Department and Fast Squad. Jeri Begalle - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
May 15, 2009
RUMNEY — For the last 15 years, each Mother's Day weekend, the Rumney Fire Department Auxiliary's annual Plant Sale has helped to launch local gardeners into their favorite season of activity.

The plant sale has established such a reputation, that this past Saturday morning, well over 75 people were waiting in line at 8:30 a.m. before the doors opened at 9 a.m.

The glistening red fire-trucks were parked out on the lawn amidst a sea of freshly dug young trees, lilacs and shrubs of every variety, while inside the firehouse, tables were chock full of lilies, iris, herbs and ferns – every imaginable specimen of flower and plant that thrives locally – at bargain basement prices!

But they didn't last long. Nearly all of the plants were gone after the initial rush of customers subsided, at about 10 a.m.

"Its kind of like Macy's bargain basement for plants," jokes event organizer Bonnie Beadle. "We equate it to bees on flowers because as soon as the doors open, they just swarm in droves."

It's a market for local heirloom and legacy plants, all freshly dug from friend's, neighbor's and members' own gardens in Rumney. "You know whatever you buy will do well because everything is locally grown," said auxiliary member Jeri Begalle. "By noon-time, it's all over and people can go home and spend the afternoon planting. So it works really well."

The sale has grown over the years. It started as an exchange and auction amongst auxiliary members, but was opened to the public for the first time 15 years ago. Last year's sale earned $1,800 for the Fire Department over the course of the three-hour sale.

Beadle said she personally spent most of the last week digging in local gardens in preparation for the event. "I dig at other people's houses if they are not able to dig themselves anymore," said Beadle. "Esther Ward is the other 'big digger' who does a lot of the work. "

The Auxiliary receives contributions from other gardeners in Rumney and Plymouth as well. Janet and Dave Moorhead from Plymouth graciously contributed an entire table's worth of plants from their own very prolific garden.

Beadle said that they also receive generous donations from local businesses every year. Hannaford's and WalMart's give gift certificates. They also receive contributions from florists and greenhouses including Forever Green, Quonset Hut in Rumney, and Flowersmith's on the Tenney Mountain Highway.

The money raised at the plant sale supports the needs of the Rumney Fire Department and FAST Squad. Two years ago the Auxiliary bought a generator with the proceeds. "If we lose power, we can use this facility as a emergency shelter," explains Beadle. "We have also purchased tables and chairs for the firehouse that we loan out to community members for functions and weddings as well. Everything we buy is something the taxpayer's do not have to purchase for the town," said Beadle.

Other funds have purchased rescue equipment, oxygen and other emergency supplies needed by the firefighters and EMTs.

In addition to the annual plant sale, the Auxiliary meets once a month regularly. They provide coffee and delicious homemade donuts at Rumney's Old Home Day. Any time throughout the year, if there is a major fire, the Auxiliary is on "canteen duty", providing food and beverages for all the firemen. They also provide financial donations to victims who have been burned out of their homes. They operate a "sick room supply" providing medical equipment, free of charge, to anyone who needs it in the community, as donations allow. Items available include walkers, potty chairs, wheelchairs etc.

"The Auxiliary has been around for many years," said Beadle. "It's intergenerational. My husband's mother was involved. I have been involved for many years. Now, my daughter is getting involved. It's is open to all members of the community who would like to participate."

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