Close this search box.

Penn State Extension’s Franklin County Happenings

Master Gardener volunteers will be staffing their Garden Hotline at the Extension office, 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, beginning April 24 through the end of September, to assist home gardeners with gardening and plant questions and problems. The Garden Hotline operates on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The Extension office and the Hotline will be closed on Memorial Day (May 29), Juneteenth (June 19), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (September 4).

Home gardeners are welcome to stop in or call the Extension office at 717-263-9226 to speak to a Master Gardener. The Garden Hotline can also be reached via email at Samples or photos of plants, insects, or garden problems are helpful to the Master Gardeners in assisting you with identification, diagnosis, and recommendations to solve your gardening questions. They may not always know the answer immediately, but they will take the time to research and get back to you with accurate, reliable information.

UPCOMING WEBINARS AND EVENTS: Penn State Extension is pleased to continue to provide quality education via a wide variety of webinars and recordings.If you have difficulty registering online for any of these live webinars, please contact Penn State Extension’s customer service team at 877-345-0691. Most of these webinars will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time, as well. Continue to search our website: for the latest offerings.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 1:30PM – Live Webinar – Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease In the United States alone, more than 5 million individuals are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million are serving as their unpaid caregivers. The disease is a global crisis that impacts numerous families right here in our community. However, no one has to face this disease alone or without information. Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease is here to help. The Alzheimer’s Association® partnered with Penn State Extension to provide this educational program covering the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It provides a general overview for people who are facing a diagnosis as well as those who wish to be informed. Participants will explore the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, learn what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s, learn about risk factors and the three general stages of the disease, and receive other helpful Alzheimer’s resources. Register by May 9 at or call 1-877-345-0691 to register by phone.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 6:00PM – In Person Workshop – Victory Garden: Planning and Preparing Join Penn State Master Gardeners in Franklin County for an informal workshop at their Victory Garden Demonstration Garden. During this first workshop, Victory Garden: Planning and Preparing, you will learn how to test your soil, build raised beds, create vertical gardens, and use no-till techniques to grow vegetables. The workshop will feature short talks by Master Gardeners, followed by a Q&A session and a guided tour around the victory garden. The workshop will be held outdoors; the Demonstration Garden is located across the street from the Extension office at 185 Franklin Farm Lane. Attendees should dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes for walking on sloping terrain. In the event of steady rain or severe thunderstorm threat or occurrence, the workshop will be postponed to Tue., May 23, 2023 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET). Participants should check the weather forecast prior to arriving for the workshop. Register by May 12 at or call 1-877-345-0691 to register by phone.

Saturday, May 20, 2023Franklin County Master Gardener Plant Sale The sale will be held at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202, from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. The Master Gardeners will once again offer a great selection of greenhouse-grown vegetable, annual flower, and herb plants, with many hard-to-find and unusual varieties, along with a wide assortment of sun and shade-loving perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees, all for reasonable prices. Bring your gardening questions, and get information about plants and planting from friendly, knowledgeable Penn State Master Gardener volunteers.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023, 12PM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving. The Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving event will explain the scientific reasoning behind today’s recommended methods for home food preservation while dispelling food preservation myths and unsafe practices of the past. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning, freezing, and drying are preservation methods that allow you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While these methods of home food preservation have existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind these methods in recent years. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to or call 1-877-345-0691.

Thursday, June 1, 11AM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Water Bath Canning. Join us for Home Food Preservation Water Bath Canning to learn the basics of water bath and atmospheric steam canning. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning is one method of food preservation that allows you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While this method of home food preservation has existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind safe canning methods in recent years. We will provide research to dispel food preservation myths and unsafe practices and discuss practical tips to ensure a positive experience when water bath canning foods. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to or call 1-877-345-0691

Ready-Set-Grow Plant Sale – Heirloom Tomatoes

Submitted By Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener

At last year’s plant sale Ralph, from Hagerstown, bought several pots of two varieties of heirloom tomato plants. He said every year he buys one or two different heirloom tomatoes and saves the seeds to share with friends and family.

Heirloom varieties are open pollinated which means, not like hybrids, seeds you collect from one year will produce the same plants the next year. Home gardeners, unlike commercial growers, have the luxury to choose what they grow. Many choose these for taste, shape, hardiness, and color not found in hybrid selections. And, like heirloom peppers, some heirloom tomatoes we are offering at our May 20 plant sale this year come with interesting stories.

In the 1930s, “Radiator Charlie” Byles was a radiator repairman in West Virginia and an amateur tomato breeder. He wanted to breed a large and meaty tomato that could feed families. He worked for six years, crossing and selecting the biggest and strongest plants he could find. The result was his dream tomato, meaty and weighing about four pounds. People drove hundreds of miles for his tomatoes. By selling his seedlings for $1 (a rather hefty sum back then), he was able to pay off his $6,000 mortgage. “Mortgage Lifter” tomatoes show up as #6 on the °BRIX scale of sweetness.

The first seeds of the San Marzano tomato came to Campania, Italy, in 1770, as a gift from the Kingdom of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples. It was planted near the community of San Marzano. It is the most important industrial tomato of the 20th century providing commercial canneries with a sturdy and tasty fruit. It is the preferred variety of local restaurants and excellent for canning.

The Brandywine was the first heirloom to achieve “cult status.” It’s a pink, Amish variety from the 1880’s. Burpee® listed a Brandywine in their 1886 catalog and Johnson and Stokes listed a variety called Brandywine in 1889. There are many stories of origin, and one is documented that brought them to the Seed Savers Exchange. Brandywine seeds from Dorris Sudduth Hill in Tennessee, who said they were in her family for 80 years, were given to tomato farmer Ben Quisenberry in Ohio. In 1982, Ben gave some to the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.

Master Gardeners are also offering dwarf tomatoes from the Victory Seeds Dwarf Tomato Project. This project used strategic crosses with results of new hybrids grown. Then seeds were shared to produce new varieties, followed by several generations to reach a stable new non-hybrid variety with the desired characteristics. Seeds from these plants would produce the same plants.

We are offering Dwarf Eagle Smiley, a golden yellow cherry, Dwarf Sneaky Sauce, red and about 4-6 oz. and meaty, plus Dwarf Hannah’s Prize, at 6-12 oz. These are from the Victory Seeds Dwarf Tomato project, and you are welcome to save and share.

SAVE THE DATE. May 20 Plant Sale 9-1. 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg

The Franklin County 4-H program works to provide positive youth development opportunities to youth aged five to eighteen throughout the county. This is only made possible by the dedication of 4-H volunteers and the support we receive each year from county officials, community businesses, and individuals. Our most recent support came from those who purchased strawberry plants from our sale. We are so grateful for the community that showed up in such a large way that all previous records of sales were broken by this year’s orders! As a result of our strawberry sale sent over five thousand individual strawberry plants out into our community. Purchasers had the option to choose between five different strawberry varieties to select bundles of twenty-five bare root plants. Many people shared that they were planting strawberries for the very first time, others shared their years of experience growing, even mentioning successes of the plants purchased from the 4-H program in previous years. We had a Master Gardener on hand during our pickup to help answer any questions and want to remind the community that the Master Gardener Hotline remains open for them to call in or email questions they come across this growing season.

Currently, another opportunity to support the local 4-H programs is being offered by our local Tractor Supply Company stores. Visit one of the three locations in Franklin County, Chambersburg, Mercersburg, or Waynesboro, and purchase a Paper Clover in support of 4-H. These funds that are raised do impact our local program specifically, as they are allocated back to the county in which the store is located. Please consider visiting a store between now and May 7 to participate.

We are excited to offer more opportunities for the 4-H program to engage with our community to bring in support for the youth we serve. We will have forthcoming details about those opportunities in the coming months. One specific upcoming event will be a Fall Mum sale! We will have a pre-order form that will be available through 4-H members and clubs, our social media pages, and at the office. We encourage you to be on the lookout for this opportunity in early August, for pickup in September and October. You will have the choice to select your colors to ensure you are getting exactly what you want for your fall décor needs. We will be partnering with a local grower who ensures a high-quality product reaches all customers. You will not want to miss our first annual Fall Mum sale!

Fundraisers are not the only opportunity to support the great work of our program, which is the largest youth program in the United States, serving six million nationwide. There is a growing need to increase our volunteer base, much the case with many nonprofit and youth organizations in our area. If you are interested in helping to “Make the Best Better” in our community, please reach out to the Franklin County Extension Office at 717-263-9226, or email Quinn Martin at There are few things more rewarding than offering positive experiences to our community’s most valuable resource, our youth.

About Penn State Extension

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research and extension programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Extension is implied. This publication is available in alternative media on request.

The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Office, The Pennsylvania State University,

28 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901, Email:, Tel (814) 863-0471.


Patricia M Campbell 1932-2024

Pat graduated from Fannett Township High School in 1950 and received her BA in Education from, known then as, Shippensburg State Teachers College. .

James Patrick McNally III 1947-2024

James was known for his dedication and excellence in his professional career, where he made lasting contributions and built strong relationships with his colleagues.

Brenda Jackson Liu 1945-2024

Upon retirement, Brenda worked as a part-time nurse at the Migrant Health in Gettysburg. During this time she traveled to migrant camps all over Pennsylvania.

Who We Are

The Franklin County Free Press, established by Vicky Taylor in 2019, emerged as a beacon of local journalism for the residents of Franklin County. Under Vicky's leadership, it quickly became an essential source of news, particularly at a time when major newspaper publications were increasingly overlooking local coverage.

On January 1, 2022, the torch was passed to Nathan Neil and his firm, Neil Publishing, LLC. Neil, a local entrepreneur with multiple thriving businesses in Chambersburg, shares Vicky's fervent commitment to both the community and the world of local journalism.

Rooted in the heart of Franklin County and powered by its residents, the Franklin County Free Press continues to bridge the gap, ensuring that the local stories, events, and issues that matter most to the community remain in the spotlight.