“Tansy Ragwort is a Noxious Weed - Send It Packing!”
The Victoria Master Gardeners Association and the Cowichan Exhibition collaborated on a public information project for the Cowichan Fair in 2014. Team members for the Victoria Master Gardener Association, Adele Weir, Frances Horner and Marlee Loiselle; and for the Cowichan Exhibition, Alison Irwin and Heather Bertrand, built an information display, in the picture above, and information handout (available here). The Tansy Ragwort exhibit was on display in the Master Gardeners booth at the 2014 Cowichan Exhibition.
The Victoria Master Gardener Association has been participating in the annual fair for several years, answering questions visitors may have about their flower and vegetable gardens. Most of these queries deal with small backyard plots; tackling the subject of a noxious weed that might appear to be an issue just for farmers cultivating more land and raising livestock was a bigger challenge! However, Tansy Ragwort is not confined to local pastures, so it is important that everyone in the community recognize what it is and why it is necessary to control its spread. Having this exhibit set up in the MG booth was a good opportunity to begin those conversations.
A small team of volunteers from both organizations met throughout the winter and spring of 2014 to plan the display. As ideas were refined, props were built, accessories assembled, and signage printed. The exhibit (see image on previous page) was set up in the main hall the evening prior to the Exhibition’s opening on Friday, September 5. The booth was manned throughout the fair weekend by members of the MG Association. Printed material was mounted on the folding screen and is available in a separate pdf here. People wanting to read more were invited to flip through a binder of additional notes. This was kept on the table by the colourful suitcase.
Also on display were Tansy Ragwort plants, both live and pressed, plus a Cinnabar moth and several Cinnabar caterpillars.
The Tansy Ragwort exhibit was an eye-catching addition to the mix of commercial and complimentary booths set up in Mellor Hall at the Cowichan Exhibition. The larger-than-life yellow ‘flowers’ plus the bright red circle and royal blue screen made good use of primary colours to draw attention to the exhibit’s message.
Most of the Tansy Ragwort signs were laid out in a question/answer format. This served to pique the curiosity of the reader, and also complemented the regular queries directed at MG volunteers by fair visitors. Those wishing further information about the plant were encouraged to browse through the binder sitting on the table. Since much of that paperwork was printed off the Internet, people will be able to continue their Tansy Ragwort research on the web.
The exhibit required the following supplies: • fabric, wire and dowel for the ‘flowers’ and ‘leaves’ • poster board for the red circles • 17” x 8.5” cardstock (110 lb) for the signs • glossy photo paper for the images • double-sided tape and Velcro used to secure the signs to the display panels • the folding screen belongs to the MG Association • a team member lent the old floral suitcase • another team member brought in the small folding table • a third team member collected the Cinnabar moth and caterpillars • the Cowichan Exhibition supplied the table cloth and booth space
A colouring page was created from an illustration found at the U.S. Forest Service website http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/kids/coloring/colornoxiousweeds.shtml This type of handout, along with the caterpillar specimens, was designed to appeal to the younger visitors stopping at the Tansy Ragwort display.
The Tansy Ragwort exhibit will come out of storage early in 2015. The venue for this second showing will be ‘Mixing It Up in the Urban Garden’, a day-long event being organized by the Victoria Master Gardener Association. It will be held January 31, 2015 in Sidney. The Cowichan Exhibition certainly recommends other agricultural fairs explore the potential of similar partnerships.