At the Elon Gardening Club’s Strawberry Festival, members sold plants in order to raise money for the campus’ Community Garden. Senior Connor Williams and his gardening class, along with members of Elon’s Gardening Club, helped curate plants for the sale and prepare for the event.
“The festival is a fun way to get outside, get a bunch of people to the garden and draw some people together for the love of plants,” Williams said.
The Strawberry Festival had a plant adoption table, strawberry ice cream provided by Elon Dining and plants being grown in the greenhouse, including lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The event also had a live performance by several musicians, along with corn hole and spike ball.
“All of the plants started in the greenhouse early last year,” Williams said. “The teacher’s assistant planted most of them, and we slowly took care of them and eventually shifted them into these bigger pots. But they all started really really small, and now here they are.”
The TA and student manager, junior Megan Kaliner, ran the event this year. She said planning the festival has been a crazy process but a great learning experience. The event had to stop in 2019 and 2020 because of COVID-19, but they are back better than ever, according to Kaliner.
“Gardening is my passion and gives me a lot of purpose,” Kaliner said. “It’s a time and a place where I can take a break from all of the craziness going on with being a college student.”
Kaliner seeded and repotted all of the plants, which she said took a long time. Her mother, Cheri Kaliner, came to support her from Philadelphia after Megan asked her to come.
“It was a little bit of a drive, but then I decided I’m going to make the effort,” Cheri said. “I wanted to be a part of it, and I’m so glad I am. I’m so proud of her. I didn’t know she seeded all of those plants.”
Sophomore Gabe Germain, one of the musicians who performed at the event this year, said he met someone through the garden who asked him to come play at last year’s festival. Germain said he was excited to be back.
“It was really fun,” Germain said, “It’s nice when families come out, and it's always nice to play in this nice area.”
Williams was registering for spring classes when he saw gardening as an option, and he said he thought it sounded wonderful. Now, he is helping at the Strawberry Festival, a large part of his class, and is happy to see it come together.
“I think I have definitely learned a lot,” Williams said. “Compared to some courses, which are very academic and up in the head, everything here is hands-on. I’ve really appreciated just having the opportunity to come out here.”