Dozens gathered at the Elon Community Garden for the annual festival on Friday, Oct. 28 which was put together by students in the fall semester studio garden class.
Spirits were high at Elon’s annual Pumpkin Festival at the Community Garden, with various festive activities including stations for face painting, pumpkin carving, sustainable mugs and more.
“I thought the face painting would just be an attraction for the little kids,” Michael Strickland, lecturer in environmental studies at Elon, said. “But the students are into it. Everybody’s having a great time.”
Strickland, along with students in the garden studio course have been working to coordinate this greatly anticipated event since the beginning of the semester. Since the first Pumpkin Festival in 2007, there’s been a “manual” developed that each class updates to guide the group that comes after them.
One table consisted of thrift mugs to promote sustainability that people filled with apple cider, hot chocolate and other refreshments. Once your mug was filled, it was yours to keep.
The festival also provided those in attendance with agricultural and environmental fun facts about the area through a game of Kahoot, such as North Carolina is the top producer of sweet potatoes and home to the Christmas tree capital of the United States – Ashe County. Additionally, the Kahoot game mentioned nearby areas and discussed the food insecurity rate of Alamance County, which is 14%.
Other stations included bobbing for apples with chopsticks, as well as autumn-based treats including candy, soup, pumpkin dip and more.
While the pumpkin festival is a popular event for the Elon Community Garden, it certainly isn’t the only way for students to get involved. “We do a festival in the spring, the Strawberry festival,” Strickland explained. “We have the Elon Community Garden club that students can join as well, volunteer hours where students can come and work and do internships. During the summer it’s quite active with usually two or three students who intern.”
Before the pandemic, the festival would attract as many as four hundred people. As we begin to transition to a new normal, numbers are beginning to pick up again.
“The first year of COVID, we scaled back and barely held a festival. It was outdoors and people could just get a pumpkin and carve it, but there was big-time social distancing,” Strickland said. “Then last year, the turnout was about a quarter of what we normally get. But typically, after the last set of classes, the numbers begin to pick up.”
The community garden serves as a symbol of sustainability, closeness and relaxation on Elon’s campus that more students should be aware of and immerse themselves in.