Elon community gathers for annual Strawberry Festival, plant adoption

The annual fan-favorite, spring-themed festival returned on Friday, May 6 to the Elon Community Garden.

Dozens of Elon students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered at the Elon Community Garden on Friday to celebrate a beloved annual event – the Strawberry Festival.

“We hope that everybody – even local folks who aren’t affiliated with the university – get to know the Community Garden, feel comfortable coming here and feel like they’re a part of it too,” said Michael Strickland, who runs the Elon Community Garden.

Michael Strickland, advisor of the Elon Community Garden.

Strickland, a lecturer in environmental science and English, hopes the Strawberry Festival, and its sister event, the fall Pumpkin Festival, will help those see the garden as a “community asset.”

He started the festival in 2009 and less than five years later, the event had ballooned into one of the more highly anticipated events on campus. Fourteen years after its inaugural event, the Strawberry Festival is continuing to attract herds of guests.

“Each year, I say to the students, ‘If you guys don’t want to do this, I’m OK with that.’ But they want to keep it up. And a month in advance, I start getting emails from faculty and staff asking about the festival and the plant sale,” Strickland said.

Jacob Earl ’22 serves fresh, local strawberry ice cream from Ran-Lew Dairy at the Elon Community Garden Strawberry Festival, held Friday, May 6, 2022.

Along with the local strawberry-themed foods, live music from student performers and self-guided garden tours, there was also a plant adoption for different kinds of peppers, tomatoes and herbs.

Camille Weiskopf ’23 helped set up the plant adoption, spending over 10 hours potting and labeling over a hundred plants before the festival and giving them out the day of.

Her brother, Ryan Weiskopf ‘21, spent two years working as the farm manager for Loy Farm which is how she got involved with the community garden.

“Over the last year I decided to get more involved, and I just fell in love,” Weiskopf said. “The main goal of the festival is to bring people out here and realize how awesome it is to be out in the garden.”

Zoë Scherpbier ’25 said the festival has been a great way for her to unwind with other students during a hectic time of the year with final exams on the horizon.

Sarah Bright ’25, sings and plays guitar at the Elon Community Garden Strawberry Festival.

“It brings students together for something outside of education. With the festival, you can relax around your fellow student body,” Scherpbier said.

As a commuter student during her first years at Elon, and on top of the restrictions and virtualization of events that came as a result of COVID-19, Eileena Boyce ’23 missed out on several of the staple Elon events. That made attending Friday’s Strawberry Festival even sweeter. Now, she is adamant about getting out and experiencing all the campus has to offer – especially the Strawberry Festival.

“I never got an experience to be on campus and do stuff,” she said. “But now, I want to start going to more things on campus, especially since it’s springtime.”