Manchester Village is a hidden gem in Kitsap, on the waterfront of Puget Sound, and at its heart is the Manchester Branch of the Kitsap Regional Library.
The relationship of this library to the community is unique. While the branch is staffed and the books and programming are provided by KRL, it is the Friends of the Manchester Library, a nonprofit entity, that owns and operates the building housing the library.
What that means in practical terms is that the Friends need to raise approximately $30,000 annually to maintain and operate the building.
The Friends, known best and longest for their annual Father’s Day Salmon Bake, also organize a spring plant sale, which has now come to rival that summer event in attendance and revenue.
Each year, our Manchester residents and the surrounding Port Orchard community donate their time, energy, plants and books to the Friends to assist in the fundraising goal. Each year brings an impressive assortment of plants to choose from, since everything sold is based on donations.
You will always find lovely perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, edible plants like strawberries and tomatoes, ground covers, plants for your water and rock gardens, plants for sun as well as shade, and the always-welcome deer-resistant plants.
Once a four-hour event, the sale has now grown into two days to accommodate the enthusiasm and interest from the community.
“Starting in 2016, we extended the plant sale calendar and started collecting plants in late summer as the thinning of plants took place. We have built a plant storage area that allows us to store and attend to the donations for up to six months, so larger and more lush plants are available for the sale,” says Cherm Mercer-Gilbert, vice president of the Friends and co-chair of the plant sale.
“The result is, buyers get a jump on their own growing season for significantly less than they would pay at nurseries,” Mercer-Gilbert says. “In addition to plant donations, we also need help to obtain and prepare plants for the sale, set up, work and break down the sale. We could not make this event happen without our wonderful and dedicated volunteers.”
Last year, the Friends developed a flagging system that now identifies plants in categories such as sun and shade, drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, etc. For the second year, the Master Gardeners program of Kitsap County will be on site to assist consumers with any questions they might have.
Amateur and experienced gardeners and everyone in between is encouraged to visit the sale to find their next gardening inspiration, all for good prices that will support a great cause.Tonya Rothe is a freelance writer and artist who oversees social media for the Friends of the Manchester Library.