Returning to the Hillsborough County Fair for a sixth year, the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Great Plant Auction is set to feature plants and foliage donated by roughly 50 local nurseries. Proceeds benefit HSWCD youth programming.
"Flowering and foliage plants from 1-inch starts to full-size trees will all be part of the vast array of offerings available at the auction," said Betty Jo Tompkins, executive director of HSWCD, the nonprofit set to present the auction Sunday, Nov. 3 at the 2022 Hillsborough County Fair.
The auction is set to kick off at 1 p.m. and run as long as necessary, at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover, 215 Sydney Washer Road. The HSWCD tent is to your left as you enter the main entrance to the county fair.
"The great thing about the auction is that it provides thousands of dollars in revenue, which HSWCD uses for youth scholarships and mini-grants for 4-H, FFA, scouts and other youth groups," Tompkins said. "Proceeds also are used to fund awards for our poster, speech and photography contests as well as the Youth Horticulture Show and Rain Barrel Decorating Contest at the Hillsborough County Fair."
In addition, Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation Districts provides youth learning opportunities through Land Judging competitions and the annual Envirothon, also known as the Environmental Olympics.
As for the plant auction, expect to see the usual and unusual and learn more about what grows well in the Sunshine State and its fourth-largest county,
"The generosity of more than 40 nurses simply can’t be overstated," Tompkins said, "including many unusual plants not readily available at other venues, such as a strawberry tree with a blueberry-like fruit that tastes like cotton candy."
As for the auctioneering, "the process is quite simple," Tompkins said. "You come to the fair, enter the HSWCD tent, where you’ll be given a bidder card and form. Then, you start bidding in the live auction and at the end you take home all the great purchases you made."
Also on tap, retail sails of orchids, peace lilies and more.
Roy Davis, a former chair of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, serves for his sixth year as auction chair and auctioneer. A lifetime nurseryman, Davis is a Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee.
“Roy, who just celebrated his 90th birthday, continues to be active in Florida’s horticultural industry," Tompkins said. "He is well-known locally, as well as nationally, for his expertise in the plant industry. We are grateful to have him involved again in this program."
Below is the flyer for this year's plant auction, as well as a photo sampling of items set for auction. Let the bidding begin!
PHOTO CREDITS: Linda Chion Kenney for HSWCD