Michael Strickland founded the Elon Community Garden in 2006 after having grown up in a family of gardeners. Today, Strickland is hosting his garden's 11th annual Strawberry Festival.
The garden hosts two annual festivals: one in the fall and one in the spring. Strickland said the festival's goal is to introduce people to gardening.
“My favorite part is seeing Elon students who didn’t come from that type of background, but have an interest in it, but don’t know much, learn things and find out that growing things comes naturally to them,” Strickland said. “And getting excited about it and harvesting things and eating their own food.”
From 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Elon Community Garden, located behind the Sklut Hillel Center, there will be free strawberry treats — lemonade, ice cream and shortcake — and plants from the garden for sale.
Because of a shortage of space, the Elon Community Garden doesn't grow the strawberries themselves — they get them from Whittaker Farms, about a half-hour drive from Elon University.
But the Elon Community Garden grows tomatoes, peppers and 20 different types of basil plants.
Strickland said the garden staff had to deal with an outbreak of aphids, small bugs that suck the juice out of plants, in the greenhouse.
“Billions of the little creatures have been attacking the plants,” Strickland said. “And because we’re all organic, we don’t use pesticides, so we’ve been having to spray them with a soapy water concoction we make up and then get in there and squish it with our hands.”
Strickland and his staff were able to save the plants before the festival. The festival's proceeds, according to Strickland, will go to the garden to pay for new equipment and fertilizers.
The garden staff hopes the festival will bring more people to the garden regularly.
“It’s a nice place to sit at the end of the day to hear the birds singing,” Strickland said. “It’s just a different kind of space on Elon’s campus.”