A successful COVID-safe plant sale by North Shore Group

By Sue Bowen, President APS North Shore Group

North Shore Group held a very successful plant sale on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 August at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden despite COVID-19 restrictions. The purpose of the sale was to clean out our shadehouse, to make room for  new stock. We usually sell our plants at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower festival, but this event was cancelled this year and lots of our plants were ready for new homes. Our sale this year was done in accordance with the requirements of a COVID Safe Plan for a non-food market and unusually, we didn’t buy in plants to sell on consignment. The COVID-19 restrictions did mean, however, that we had to put considerably more effort and organisation into the sale beyond just getting the plants ready for sale. Members also had to fill new roles at the sale. 

Plants in the shadehouse by Sue Bowen

Attendance was by pre-booking only, through me, to ensure safe spacing within Caley’s Pavilion, which has a COVID-safe capacity of 24. Customers were given arrival times, at 15 minute intervals, throughout Saturday and Sunday. This was a big change for most of them, as they are used to arriving at the start of a plant sale to get the best choice! I had many customers who wanted to arrive at the same time at the start of the sale on Saturday morning!. However, when I explained that bookings were made on a first come first time available due to COVID restrictions, most were understanding. Some people were disappointed, nonetheless, when their time was on Sunday, rather than on Saturday. 

Entry desk at Caley’s Pavilion by Jan Williamson

Our plant sale was held inside Caley’s Pavilion but our COVID marshall and entry desk (where people had to check in and be marked off on our attendance list), were outside the entry to the pavilion. Customers moved through the pavilion putting plants into their own boxes and bags and then exited to the sales desk outside. Payments were advertised as ‘contactless preferred’ and the vast majority of customers complied with this request.

The marshall performed an essential role welcoming people to our ‘COVID Safe’ sale and controlling entry in accordance with our attendance list. 

I was amazed by how many plants some people bought and we had to replenish our stocks regularly until our shadehouse was virtually empty of anything saleable! Unfortunately some people were disappointed because they couldn’t get a time but while we had sufficient customers for a third day, we just ran out of plants!

Our advertising was extremely effective via APS and Ku-ring-gai Council’s e-sustainability newsletter and bushcare network and we were very pleased to see a number of members, including some new North Shore members, attending the sale.

Plants inside Caley’s Pavilion by Jan Williamson

Edible plants of any sort were very popular as were our stock of Libertia paniculata (in full flower), Telopea speciosissima and orchids just coming into flower. The last three were all propagated in, or collected as seed or ‘pups’ from, local members’ gardens. 

Next year who knows??