Katie, going into fourth-grade at Carroll Manor Elementary School, and her sister, Karli, 4, are each bringing five rabbits and one guinea pig to the Hereford Fair.
For complete Fair information, go to http://www.herefordjrfarmfair.com.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County Master Gardeners are anxious to show off the gardens they have carved out of a former field of barley at the Ag Center.
Master Gardener Heather Wight, of Parkton, has volunteered to dress up as a tomato and wander around the Hereford Junior Farm Fair to let people know that Garden Fest is next door.
Garden Fest runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a scavenger hunt, a blind herb identification contest, heirloom tomato tasting, a worm bin demonstration and a sun-tea demonstration and tasting.
Children can make bracelets, pinwheels and butterfly fans at the crafts table while adults visit the "Ask a Master Gardener" table to pick the experts' brains.
"This is our first-ever open house," said Leslie Erickson, of Phoenix, past president of the gardeners. "Our goal is to let people know the gardens are here. They are in a county park that's open to the public, so people can stop by and visit anytime."
Cultivated gardens cover almost 2 acres and are protected by a 10-foot deer fence. Gardener Natalie Hamilton hand-painted mailboxes in front of the each garden containing fact sheets and a map of the entire site. Visitors are welcomed, but asked to leave their dogs at home.
The 80-foot by 80-foot "Grow it. Eat it" garden is filled with vegetables, blueberries, and fruit trees. Everything harvested from that garden is donated to Cockeysville Food Pantry and Creative Kids Community Centers, said Debbie McKearney, of Phoenix, in charge of that garden.
Master Gardeners sign up to plant, weed and water all gardens on a regular basis. Once the vegetables are ready, some 28 volunteers promise to show up every other day to harvest.
The "Bay-wise" demonstration garden teaches homeowners how to use the right plants in the right places to cut down on the amount of fertilizer and watering needed.
There is also an herb garden and a children's garden. Future plans call for a pollinator garden aimed at attracting bees.
The nonprofit group raises money for mulch and garden supplies by hosting an annual plant sale. Many gardeners also sign up to be on a Speakers' Bureau and donate their fees back to the group.
The Baltimore County Master Gardeners program began in 2007. Members used to meet at Oregon Ridge Nature Center before the Ag Center opened in 2010. The club currently has more than 150 volunteer members.
"Master Gardeners are go-getters. Many come to the organization after retiring from leadership roles in public and private industry. They are also passionate gardeners," said Katie Dott, Urban Horticultural Program Assistant with the University of Maryland Extension program.
"This Open House is the culmination of the hopes, dreams and hard work it took to create teaching gardens at the Agriculture Center."
Prospective Master Gardeners who are selected for the program attend about 50 hours of training. The classes meet one day a week for 10 weeks and include topics such as botany, plant propagation, native plants and soils.
After participants pass an open-book exam, they spend their first year giving 40 hours of volunteer service. After that, they volunteer at least 20 hours a year and complete 10 hours of continuing education classes. Applications for the January 2014 training classes will be accepted in September. For more details, go to http://www.bcmastergardeners.weebly.com