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Garden class & Hillel host a great pumpkin festival

Crowds visited the Elon Community Garden behind the Sklut Hillel Center on Oct. 25 as an environmental studies course and Elon Hillel celebrated the season with food, face painting, photos and gobs of gourds.

By Sarah Mulnick '17

An environmental studies class joined with Elon Hillel on Friday to host the course's 5th annual Fall Pumpkin Festival, an extravaganza of pumpkin-flavored foods and activities that brought together dozens of students and community members.

Music, pumpkin carving, a photo booth, and various dessert delights entertained a crowd whose size greatly exceeded previous years at the Elon Community Garden, due in part to the class's recent partnership with Hillel, coupled with concerted publicity through social media.

“We really wanted to celebrate autumn and harvest time,” said Professor Michael Strickland, who teaches the ENS 221 "Garden Studio" class that lead the event. “And we want to promote the idea of growing food and discovering where it comes from. A lot of produce can be grown year-round in the garden here.”

Strickland's class teaches home-scale gardening and food production, and students spent several days prior to the festival baking in the Hillel kitchen. The end result was a line of tables ladened with Brunswick stew, apple cider and hot chocolate, and plenty of pumpkin flavored pie, bread and cupcakes.

Organizers of the Oct. 25, 2013, festival asked that guests bring their own reusable utensils and containers in an effort to be environmentally sustainable.

“I think it is cool that they are trying to make everything eco-friendly,” said Kelly Reagan ’17, who attended the festival with her friends after hearing about it through Facebook. “I even wore my pumpkin shirt to the pumpkin festival!”

The festival served the dual purpose of bringing attention to environmental issues behind food growth and to the existence of the community garden. Many students are unaware the garden even exists, said Strickland. It's open to any member of the community to visit for free, fresh produce.

Students at the festival on Friday said they enjoyed spending time with and supporting their friends, as well as the opportunity to get to know the community garden and what it can bring about.

“It's a great way to celebrate the produce and things that come out of the community garden,” said Laura Reiman ’14, “and it shows support and fellowship, too.”

The "Garden Studio" class also hosts a plant sale in the spring in conjunction with a strawberry festival organized in similar fashion. The Center for Environmental Studies and the Department of Environmental Studies provided additional support for the pumpkin festival.

Eric Townsend,
10/25/2013 3:55 PM