By: Towne Moores, Staff Writer for the Old Gold & Black

As you’ve likely noticed from the blooming flowers around campus and herds of students sunbathing on the Quad, spring has arrived! On Sunday, March 24, the Office of Sustainability celebrated its arrival by hosting its annual Spring Equinox Celebration. 

The parking lot in front of the Wake Forest Campus Garden off Polo Road was packed with cars, all full of people eager to begin the celebration of a new season. The weather was beautiful, with the sun shining down on community members and students as they roamed from table to table, sipping on tea from the World Tea Association (WTA) and collaging using scraps collected by the Second Hand Art Collective (SHAC), a Winston-Salem-based nonprofit that collects and re-sells gently used art supplies.

Each year the Office of Sustainability hosts its annual Spring Equinox Celebration at the Campus Garden to kick off Wake Forest’s annual Earth Month celebration, which runs from mid-March to the end of April. 

Throughout the month, the Office of Sustainability hosts many events to promote sustainability in conjunction with departments and organizations on campus. This year, the Earth Month lineup includes a Climate Justice Panel Discussion with environmental justice scholar-activists, a backpacking trip hosted by the Outdoor Pursuits, a buy-nothing sale, multiple environment-oriented film screenings and more. 

Senior Campus Garden intern Mia Handler stated that the Spring Equinox Celebration is her favorite event each year due to the large number of people it draws to the garden.

“Our volunteer hours for the Campus Gardens are great, and it’s awesome to see people there, but you are usually seeing the same faces,” Handler said. “This is my favorite event because it brings new people to the garden and really fosters a sense of community.”

Handler has been involved with the Campus Garden since her freshman year, but this is only her third time attending the Spring Equinox Festival due to the COVID-19 outbreak during her freshman year.

She stressed the importance of the Spring Equinox when it comes to fostering a sustainable community at Wake Forest. 

“Wake [Forest] has some amazing events but doesn’t [usually] focus on sustainability events,” Handler said. “Sustainability doesn’t get brought to the mainstream. But that’s exactly what this event does.”

The Office of Sustainability collaborates with organizations across campus and throughout Winston-Salem to host the celebration. The Office of Sustainability’s Communications and Event Coordinator Jay Sauerman mentioned the interconnectedness of the event.

“This event has a lot of organizations from [Wake Forest’s] campus and the greater community coming together,” Sauerman noted. 

This year, on-campus organizations including Wake Radio, the Birding and Conservation Society and ZSR Library attended the festival. There were also some nonprofits from around Winston-Salem such as the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, an organization that works to educate the Winston-Salem community on sustainability initiatives, as well as the aforementioned SHAC. 

First-time coordinator Sauerman expressed her excitement and gratitude regarding the festival.

“It’s great to celebrate with the greater campus,” Sauerman said. “The Spring Equinox Festival is an opportunity for students to get involved with sustainability on campus.”  

This year, on-campus organizations including Wake Radio, the Birding and Conservation Society and ZSR Library attended the festival. (Rocio Polanco)

The organizations at the festival provided many sustainable and unique activities for students, ranging from making your own body scrub out of coffee grounds, brown sugar and essential oils, making Campus Garden buttons, painting scratched second-hand records and to petting a lamb. This year, a special stand run by Campus Garden interns asked attendees to suggest names for the chicks (presented at the event in their cage) that will occupy the garden’s coop as they grow older.

In addition to a variety of activities, the event also featured a robust menu of plant-based food. Tables were covered with a variety of foods including black bean and sweet potato quesadillas, chocolate-dipped strawberries and vegan brownies. 

While the tables of activities lined the yard, benches were set up in front of the band SCOBY, which provided entertainment for the festival. Many students sat with their food and enjoyed the music and the scenery of the garden. 

Senior Kristin Taylor has been a part of the Campus Garden leadership team since her junior year. She originally started out as a once-weekly Connect and Cultivate leader but enjoyed her time at the garden so much that she applied to be an intern this year.

When asked what the Spring Equinox Celebration means to her and the Wake Forest community, Taylor mentioned celebration and connection as two of her main takeaways. 

“The Spring Equinox is an opportunity for students to gather with [other members of] the Wake Forest community and enjoy the advent of spring,” Taylor said, adding that “it allows students to gain exposure to several of the organizations and student groups at their disposal and connect with new people.”

Taylor emphasized the impact that the Campus Garden and the Spring Equinox Celebration have had on her experience at Wake Forest. 

“To me, the Spring Equinox [Festival] has always served as an important reminder of just how many resources are at our fingertips and how beautiful our garden space is on the cusp of spring.” 

This article was originally published in the Old Gold & Black.