Strawberry festival draws crowd to community garden
An effort to showcase both the university's Community Garden and heirloom plants grown by Elon students proved popular, as did delicious strawberry treats.
A spring semester "garden studio" class held its annual Strawberry Festival and Heirloom Plant Sale on Friday, as light refreshments and strawberry-flavored desserts served as perfect treats for a hot May afternoon.
Hosted by the Department of Environmental Studies and the Center for Environmental Studies, and featuring help from the Elon Academy and Elon Hillel, the May 9 festival drew dozens of students, faculty and staff to the Elon Community Garden. But organizers hope members of the general public also found their way to what some event organizers consider one of the most unique spots on campus.
“A lot of people don’t know about it,” course instructor Michael Strickland said. “The more we can do to get people over here and realize there’s a spot like this on campus, I think it’s better for everybody.”
Strickland teaches the 24 students in the course home-scale gardening and food production using the garden, which is adjacent to the Sklut Hillel Center. Heirloom plants that students grew this semester were on sale, and guests purchased everything from exotic basils and peppers to tomato varieties that included Cherokee Purple, Matts Wild Cherry, Berkeley Tie Dye and Purple Bumblebee. The class also had available a limited number of zinnias and marigolds in Elon University colors. Proceeds from all plant sales will be reinvested in the community garden.
Light refreshments such as strawberry shortcake, ice cream and strawberry/kale smoothies were offered for free.
Rough winter weather has the garden five or six weeks behind normal schedule, Strickland says, but he believes his students did a great job rallying to pull everything together for the festival.
“I absolutely love this project,” Strickland said. “I don’t sleep the night before [the festival] and then I sleep like a baby all weekend because they always pull it off.”
Junior Rachel Miller, a human services studies major and member of the “garden studio” class, helped organize the event. While the course isn’t a requirement for her major, she’s grateful she got the opportunity to take it.
“I think it makes me a lot more well-rounded, so I’m not just studying psychology and human services and learning how to interact with people,” she said. “I’m also learning how to support myself with food and to know what to purchase when I go to the grocery store.”
Miller says the festival, which also featured music, face painting and a photo booth, was a welcome break from end-of-the-year stress.
“It’s a great way to start people’s weekends before they start studying,” she said.
Funding for the strawberry festival was made possible by the SGA Fun Fund and a diversity grant from Elon University's Multicultural Center.