Valley residents think spring at home show

Juice Plus+ representative Maria Bjorkman explains the company’s Tower Garden to a visitor during the Stillwater Home and Garden Show Saturday at Rutherford Elementary School. Juice Plus+ was one of 80 vendors with booths at the annual March show. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Juice Plus+ representative Maria Bjorkman explains the company’s Tower Garden to a visitor during the Stillwater Home and Garden Show Saturday at Rutherford Elementary School. Juice Plus+ was one of 80 vendors with booths at the annual March show. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

There was snow on the ground and a chill in the air but St. Croix Valley residents were thinking spring inside Rutherford Elementary School Saturday.

The Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Stillwater Home and Garden Show brought 80 exhibitors and hundreds of visitors to the Rutherford gymnasium and main hallway in anticipation of warmer days ahead.

Products and services ranging from home improvement to gardening to lawn-care equipment to financial planning were available to adults, while children could participate in math-related activities at the Mathnasium booth or visit with celebrity German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin.

Todd Streeter, Chamber executive director, said the popular show again sold out of it’s exhibitor spots at the school.

“We sold out again at 80,” he said. “Of the 80, 15 of them are new.”

One person missing from this year’s show was KARE-11 personality Bobby Jensen, who appeared at previous home shows. Streeter said scheduling conflicts prevented Jensen from attending Saturday’s show. That led show organizers to expand children’s activities for a more family-oriented event, according to Streeter.

“We opted to expand our kid’s zone. Anything we can do for families,” Streeter said.

Many families spent Saturday wandering among exhibitors learning about products and services and trying to keep their children from eating too much of the complimentary candy many exhibitors offered.

One exhibit that attracted numerous visits was the Juice Plus+ Tower Garden, a vertical aeroponic growing system.

Juice Plus+ representative Maria Bjorkman said the Tower Garden can be used year-round indoors and outdoors to grow a variety of vegetable, herbs and flowers. Only root vegetables such as carrots, onions and potatoes cannot be grown in the Tower Garden.

The system uses an all-natural earth mineral growing tonic mixed 20 gallons of water stored in a large pot and pumped up a vertical tube to trickle on plant roots growing in small, slotted containers without dirt, according to Bjorkman.

“It’s all organic. It’s 100 percent organic,” she said.

The basic outdoor-only Tower Garden costs $499. Bjorkman said. The indoor version she displayed at the home show uses a $59.95 “tomato cage” grow-light system.

“People are just amazed they can have fresh vegetables any time,” she said.

Perhaps the sight of leaf lettuce, basil and other herbs and vegetables growing on a chilly late March day got visitors hoping for warmer days ahead. Streeter said this attendance at this year’s show appeared to be higher than the 2012 show that competed against unusually warm early spring weather.

“The weather is cooperating this year. It’s hard to compete with a 70-degree day,” he said. “Now that we’ve had a normal winter we expect a good turnout.”

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