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Thomas Ribera helps Archie Bray staff load the nearly 1,000 potted plants

Thomas Ribera helps Archie Bray staff load the nearly 1,000 potted plants destined for the Archie Bray Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale.

Stumped about what to buy Mom?

Well the Archie Bray Foundation could have the answer.

One of Helena’s most fun and popular art events, the Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale, is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 12, at the Archie Bray Foundation.

Now in its 25th year, it’s a family event that’s a unique community collaboration between West Mont Farm & Gardens and the Archie Bray Foundation.

“It’s our largest public event,” said Bray resident artist director Steven Young Lee. “It’s good for community building and gives people an opportunity to come out and visit the Bray from a wide range of ages and interest levels.”

This year the hub of activities moves to the front of the new Education and Research Facility just a short distance from the sale’s previous setting.

Per usual, there will be kids’ clay events, wood-fired pizza to eat, a petting zoo and more.

And then there’s always the opportunity to stroll around its fascinating historic grounds and view the outdoor sculptures previous resident artists created for the Bray.

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Potted plants destined for the Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale

Potted plants destined for the Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale sit in a greenhouse at West Mont Farm & Gardens Tuesday. The sale is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 12, at the Archie Bray Foundation.

“Coming out of the winter, it’s always such a nice way to open up things to the public,” said Lee.

Each of the past two years, the event’s attracted about 1,000 visitors.

They come to buy unique Mother’s Day planters and vases made by Archie Bray residents and alumni and filled with flowers and plants raised by West Mont vocational clients.

An estimated 20 artists each make 50 or more pots and vases for the sale, so there’s usually about 1,000 items for sale, emailed Bray operations manager Brad Robinson.

Bray artists typically start work in February and March, said Lee.

“We all pull our wheels and carts into the studio hallway making planters and vases together.”

It builds camaraderie and gets them going on it early.

“Every year I’m always amazed. It’s such a range of what people are making,” said Lee. Some are potters, others sculptors.

“I’m always excited about what people come up with every year.”

“It’s the one sale of the year, where staff participate,” he added. “A lot of the staff are talented artists and a number of them will make planters for the sale.”

Sales of the pots benefit the resident artists directly, who are also on hand for the sale, and also the West Mont Farm & Garden program.

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Vikki Thomson shows off one of the potted plants Tuesday.

Vikki Thomson shows off one of the potted plants Tuesday.

Hundreds of Bray pots were delivered to West Mont several weeks ago so clients could fill them with potting soil and bedding plants and then water and tend them in the greenhouse.

Other clients, who are part of the West Mont Flower & Trading Company vocational program, create the cut flower arrangements in Bray vases.

West Mont will also be selling a selection of garden bedding plants and some small flower vases children can afford, said Susan Pesta, West Mont vice president of agency relations.

This year, West Mont’s petting zoo’s stars are four young goats -- Thunder and Lightning and Orlando and Princess.

About 20 adult Farm & Gardens program clients with varying disabilities are closely involved in the pots and plants sale, Pesta said.

“Definitely, one of the biggest benefits is this gives them paid work,” said Pesta. “They are paid a wage.”

But there are benefits that go beyond the money.

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Potted plants destined for the Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale

Potted plants destined for the Mother's Day Pots and Plants Sale sit in a greenhouse at the West Mont Farm & Gardens Tuesday. The sale is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 12, at the Archie Bray Foundation.

The clients learn vocational skills.

They put soil in the pots, they learn how to transplant bedding plants into them, how to water them and provide nutrition and how to cut them back, said Pesta.

After costs, West Mont typically makes $800 to $1,000, she said, which goes back into the program.

Another benefit is the community gets to learn about West Mont, which operates 13-residential facilities and four-vocational centers, providing services to over 140 individuals with disabilities.

“The presence there is great,” said Pesta of the Bray sale. “Any time you have the opportunity to educate the community about people with disabilities ... and our training programs is wonderful. We’re very proud to collaborate with the Bray. They’re a phenomenal program. They’re known throughout the world.”

The appreciation is mutual.

“We just really love working with them and they do such a nice job with the flowers,” said Lee.

“It’s one of those events that puts everybody’s strengths in full view.”

The Archie Bray Foundation is located at 2915 Country Club Ave. For more information call 443-3502, or visit archiebray.org.

For information on West Mont, visit westmont.org

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