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Arboretum Crops Aid Friendraising and Fundraising

There's Gold in Them Thar Tomatoes! And Support for the University/City Partnership

April 15, 2013

woman and son pick up plants from a hugh table.

Sandra and Ethan Choi look for just the right plants during this year's Monster Tomato and Pepper Sale at the Fullerton Arboretum.

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What started as a small sale of quality tomato plants to local gardeners has blossomed into one of the Fullerton Arboretum's major fundraising events.

"People wait all year for our Monster Tomato and Pepper Sale," said Greg Dyment, director of the Fullerton Arboretum. "We usually make between $80,000 and $100,000 from that event."

That doesn't mean the Arboretum is flush with cash. The partnership with the city of Fullerton to operate the 26-acre botanical garden has a budget of $1.5 million a year. "As one of the last free botanic gardens in the state of California," Dyment explained, "Our future depends on us being self-sufficient."

"We're always looking for new members and new fundraising opportunities — whether it's operating our farmer's market, holding classes and events, or writing grants. We want to ensure that the Arboretum continues to meet the needs of our community."

On April 20-21, the Arboretum holds its 36th annual Green Scene Plant and Garden Show, the largest outdoor garden show in Southern California, crowded by vendors and plant enthusiasts.

Since Green Scene began in 1974, it has grown into a community event as well as a sale.

Arboretum staff grew tomato seedlings bred to thrive under Southern California's weather conditions, and the plants were such a hit in the early days of Green Scene, that they eventually launched a separate sale.

"Before we started our own sale, we provided seedlings for high-end nurseries and other sellers," said Dyment. "It finally occurred to us that we might as well profit from our own seedlings."

"We appeal to two types of gardeners," said Harriet Bouldin, development manager: "the purists who will buy between 80 to 150 plants and the new gardeners who will buy a few seedlings. Because this is Southern California, we added peppers so people could make salsa!"

"Each year, we get hundreds of people who have never visited us before and they're just amazed," Dyment said. "While you're at the sales, you're welcome to tour the grounds.

"People drive from Arizona, Napa, San Diego, the Central Valley. There's always a line each morning during Green Scene."

For more information about the Arboretum, its classes, programs and sales, go to the Arboretum website.

By: Valerie Orleans, 657-278-4540

Tags:  Campus UpdatesCommunity