Garden Fest springs onto campus

AK Pachla, Copy Editor

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Bakersfield College’s 11th annual Garden Fest comes into bloom this spring on Saturday, April 16, when more than one hundred vendors will be in Renegade Park near the Horticulture Lab with food, arts and jewelry, yard and landscaping product demonstrations, and of course, plants.

“Well, my world is always over here,” says horticultural technician and BC professor Sally Stearns, referring to a lab and classrooms that smell, quite frankly, like dirt. Indeed, walking into the Hort Lab and Renegade Park is a little like passing from Bakersfield into Eden, and it is power of plants that grew Garden Fest from an awareness raising plant sale to the community event it is today.

In the early 2000s, the BC Horticulture program had slowed down due to lack of staffing. With the 2005 acquisition of environmental horticulturalist Lindsey Ono, the department wanted a way to let students know that there was still a horticulture program. Professor Ono, a CalPoly SLO graduate, borrowed a tradition from his alma mater and held the first Garden Fest at BC. Stearns estimates 75 people showed up to visit maybe a dozen vendors, “but everyone that came up absolutely loved it, so we decided to keep going.”

Garden Fest has grown alongside BC Horticulture ever since. This year, in addition to the vendors, local bands have agreed to appear, KERN Radio -1180AM will be broadcasting live in the morning, the Renegade Ruckus Cook off featuring ingredients grown on campus, and a demonstration by Buck’s Landscape Materials and Pond Supply on installing a do-it-yourself backyard pond.

The average crowd drawn to Garden Fest numbers between four and five thousand, but this year’s event is sharing space with the very first BC Gamer Day (in partnership with the national charity gaming organization Extra-Life), an event celebrating video games and gamer culture. Stearns, however, sees no conflict. BCSGA is running the Garden fest kids’ carnival in addition to sponsoring Gamer Day, “so we’re happy,” says Stearns, “because those people who come for [Gamer Day] will see Garden Fest and go ‘Oh, hey! Let’s go see what’s going on over there.’”

Stearns regards the addition of Gamer Day to Garden Fest as the possible beginnings of an entire BC Open Campus Day where art shows and concerts, vendors, and other campus and community events take place over the entirety over a weekend. “Every year after it [Garden Fest] was over, we would sit down and say… what new ideas can we come up with for next year?”

Garden Fest is Saturday, April 16. The gates open at 8 a.m., and admission and parking are free. For more information about Garden Fest or BC Horticulture, visit the department website at

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