UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County

Plant Sale Info for MGs

Plant Sale Information for Alameda County Master Gardeners


Corny? Maybe, but Rosy goes right to the point:

We cannot do this without you!

Our first annual plant sale is right around the corner (Saturday, April 18th). You'll want to be there when we start a new tradition and enable a stronger, more impactful Master Gardener organization, empowered with an infusion of funds and energy.

The work starts at 7am. We have about 90 minutes to transport thousands of plants from the grow site to the Sunol Water Temple.

We are critically short of MGs, especially for the early morning plant transport job.

Class of 2014, there is no better way to contribute your fresh outlook and vitality than by helping make this sale super successful!

As it is, many MGs will be there all day. Even if you can only work for a short period of time, please make the effort to help us out. You do not want to miss what should be a sea-changing event for the Alameda County Master Gardeners organization!

What is all the fuss about? To start, the plant propagators have been successful beyond our wildest expectations. By modeling ourselves after the Contra Costa process, we have been able to jump years forward in our ability to start and grow out healthy veggies and herbs.

Here's a picture of our nursery structures at the Sunol AgPark. We've both literally and figuratively weathered the storm (hail, driving winds and heavy downpour!)
(Click on the image to see more.)

ACMG hoop rows after an April rain

It doesn't look like many plants would fit into these rows from the picture, which was shot from a perspective that hides its size. These hoop rows were designed to hold over 8,500 starts and they are overflowing! More plants are in the permanent hoop house and a fourth row holds even more plants. Take a look down the rows.
(Click on an image to see more.)

Row 1 is mostly plants that needed slowing down

Row 2 is nearly all tomatoes

Row 3 contains the slowest growers

It is an amazing amount of plants for our first sale. But this is only half the job. These MG plant sales are mobbed when they open.  The CCMG sale on April 4th had around 800 transactions, averaging around 10 plants per customer, for a take of around $30,000. As you can see in the following videos, customers commonly come in groups of 2 or more. That's a lot of folks coming through, with most of the business getting done in the first hour or two. Yikes!

Over 400 people were lined up outside before the sale even started.

CCMG pre sale line-1

Here's a video segment showing the public stream in after the opening countdown. Note that everyone inside the gate is a Master Gardener, and they move quickly to get ready for the customer inrush. Click on the image to watch the video.

The countdown finished at the CCMG plant sale

The checkout queue grows quickly, but is tightly controlled with stanchions and queue monitors at both ends. In the following video you can see one MG holding the end of the queue while the other minder sends the next customer to an open cash register. At one time 100 people were in line. Click on the image to watch the video.

Queue management at CCMG plant sale

Contra Costa uses a customer interface MG per cash register system. The customer interface removes all plants from the customer's container, sorts by cost and type ($3, $2, edible, non-edible) and then carefully counts out the totals to the cashier. Once payment is made, everything is boxed up and they prepare for the next customer. No literature is provided at checkout to keep things speedy.

Watch the following video to see a CCMG pro go through the process:               

Checking out at the CCMG sale

Perhaps one day we can reach the level of the Santa Clara Master Gardener plant sale. Their sale, held this year on April 11th, was awe-inspiring. These tables were cleared of all plants and additional inventory below the table in about 5 minutes.

Tomatoes sold out in minutes at the SCMG sale

It's hard to understand just how much bedlam exists during this sale, as people scramble for a quickly dwindling resource. Click on the image to watch the video.

Controlled chaos reigns at the SCMG plant sale

The SCMG checkout line moved people quickly, using 20 simultaneous cashiers. Wow!

I spoke with some SCMGs and learned that last year they sold around 20,000 tomatoes and 17,000 peppers. That's $114,000 right there, not even considering everything else they sell. They netted around $50,000 last year. What are they doing with all of that? Pouring it into their new Cottle Park Garden. See the plans for this new garden on the following photos. I was told that next year the sale will be held there.
(Click on an image to see more).




Hopefully, with your help, there's a "Cottle Park" in our future as well!

Don't you want to take an active part in making this happen for us? Show up early and stay for the day to help us make it happen in Alameda County!

See you all on Saturday!

Ed Ellebracht, on behalf of the Plant Sale Committee

ACMG 2014



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