This year, you can feast on “harvest pizza” as well as feast your eyes on the most magnificent, locally grown produce during the Youth Garden Project’s second Blue Ribbon Produce Exhibition set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Youth Garden Project (530 S. 400 East, Moab).
The YGP decided to forego the larger-scale harvest festival this year in response to the pandemic, but still aims to hold a great community event with fun, garden-centered activities.
“It’s a really fun, safe outdoor space to come visit and celebrate the harvest,” said YGP Youth Programs Director Julie Zender.
The Blue Ribbon Produce Exhibition will feature vegetables and other garden goodies entered into categories including several for largest or heaviest, “weirdest,” “ best flower arrangement” and “most anatomically correct.”
Even those with more talent for growing weeds than food have a chance to shine in the categories of “biggest tumbleweed” and “longest bindweed.”
Produce submissions will be accepted the day before the exhibition – Friday, Sept.18, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. – and judged that afternoon. All entries will be on display during the exhibition.
Last year’s winners included Anne Clare Erickson for her “most classic” tomato; Nan Marquardt won “best flower arrangement”; and Easy Bee Farm won awards for the largest bunch of grapes and the “weirdest” giant sunflower head. Trish Hawkins had the prize-winning tumbleweed and Nicole Dvorscak won both “Best in Show” and “People’s Choice” for her giant beet.
The YGP is also hosting a photography contest with the theme of “People and Produce.” The entries will be on display during the festival; submissions should be emailed to email@example.com prior to Wednesday, Sept. 16. Zender encouraged submissions of “unique, cute or picturesque” photos showing people and produce together.
Contest winners will get a hand-crafted ribbon and bragging rights.
Exhibition attendees are also invited to complete a scavenger hunt. There will be clues leading to various parts around the garden and the final clue will lead to what Zender called a “big garden surprise.” Zender added that the hunt is simple and self-guided, and compatible with social distancing.
Live music by husband-and-wife duo Sand and Sunnie Sheff will add to the ambiance, with straw bales for listeners to rest on while enjoying the music and, perhaps, enjoying a slice or three of “harvest pizza” which will be on sale during the festival, made with YGP veggies and baked in an on-site cob oven. Zender said the cob oven gives the pizza “that fresh-grilled kind of taste” superior to baking done in a standard oven. Proceeds from pizza sales go to the Youth Garden.
The YGP is a nonprofit with the mission of “cultivating healthy children, families, and community through educational programs and the profound act of connecting people with food from seed to table.” Programming uses the YGP’s 1.5-acre garden as a classroom, growing food for the Moab community and offering youth and individuals of all ages opportunities to learn vocational skills and life lessons.
For more information, go to www.youthgardenproject.org or call the YGP at 435-259-BEAN.