For 24 years, the Rotary Club of Gilroy, Calif., together with Syngenta Flowers/Goldsmith Seeds, has turned the company’s Spring Trials display into its annual Flower Fest, a unique plant sale and the organization’s biggest fundraiser. Rotary Club activities this year included a luncheon and an auction for members and commenced with a public plant sale on Saturday, April 24. All of the $41,000 raised will be invested back into the local community.
“This event is one of a kind and helps define exactly why we are Rotarians,” says David Cox, co-chair of the Flower Fest. “Our motto is ‘Service Above Self.’ This spirit of community is exemplified by Syngenta Flowers, its staff and the Goldsmith family, all of whom work tirelessly to help put on this event.
“Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to fund the dozens of schools, non-profits and community-based organizations that receive grants through the Gilroy Rotary’s annual charitable giving. We are humbled and indebted to their generosity.”
The fundraising aspect isn’t the only benefit of the Spring Trials plants sales.
“After spending a week talking to industry representatives about the specifics of our varieties, it’s refreshing to see the joy on the faces of the general public as they enter the greenhouses,” says Joel Goldsmith, head of business development for NAFTA Flowers Professional. “It reminds us all of the pleasure that comes from what we do, which we can sometimes lose sight of. Even after all this time, the Flower Fest is one of my favorite days of the year.”
The Flower Fest draws hundreds of visitors from Gilroy and surrounding towns. Many visitors say the charity, as well as the quality and broad assortment of plants, keeps them coming back year after year.
With more than 15,000 plants on display at this year’s Spring Trials, Syngenta Flowers is able to support a variety of other local organizations and causes. Before Flower Fest, select plant material and large combination planters are donated to the horticulture program and grounds at Gilroy’s Anchorpoint School and St. Mary’s Church. The San Juan Bautista Chamber of Commerce feature Spring Trials plants in its annual plant sale, which raises funds for activities and groups in that community. Plants are also donated to the Taste of Morgan Hill, where they decorate the event and are sold to raise funds for Morgan Hill, Calif., schools.
After Flower Fest, plants that weren’t sold are sent to adorn graduation ceremonies at Gilroy middle and high schools, as well as San Benito High School in nearby Hollister, Calif., and Gavilan Community College in Gilroy. Syngenta Flowers varieties resurface at Gilroy’s most famous event, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, where they decorate the stage for the Great Garlic Cook-