FloraFest brings native landscaping right to your backyard – The Prospector
When it comes to preserving the land and native plants from across the El Paso region, UTEP helps lead in this environmental mission by providing faculty, students and the general public with access to the indigenous greens of the area. This year, FloraFest happened Oct. 1 at the Undergraduate Learning Center and had a full turnout.
The UGLC was stocked full of trees, groundcovers, vegetables, grasses, cacti and an assortment of other local plants for people to choose from. Shoppers came prepared with carts to hold the produce they expected to purchase and had dozens of volunteers that could assist them in finding exactly what they were looking for.
There were two categories of plants available for the public’s choosing, native or adapted species. Master gardeners, horticulturalists, even students and staff were there to help explain the differences and care processes for everything at the market.
There were signs lining the rows of plants that also gave detailed descriptions of what each section was and what they required.
FloraFest serves two primary purposes for UTEP and El Paso, to fundraise for the campus gardens and promote a healthier environment in the city.
“Part of the Garden’s mission is to not only show off the amazing plants that grow here in the Chihuahuan Desert, but then this sale enables people to plant them in their yards,” said Daniel Carey-Whalen, director of the UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. “A part of our mission is environmental sustainability, wanting people to make the shift away from nonnative plants, from grass, and to zero scape their yard with native and adapted plants.”
This type of gardening not only facilitates creating a better local environment but can also save people money when it comes to managing their yards and their landscaping.
“(People) are going to save on their water bill and (the plants) are beautiful. There’s so many wonderful flowering plants that attract native insects, so native pollinators. It’s just healthier for the environment,” Carey-Whalen said.
The fundraising aspect of the event helps UTEP maintain its own native gardens and landscaping. The money it makes also funds the workers who are hired to keep the grounds and pay for anything that needs to be fixed within the gardens.
People from all over the city bought plants from the festival to fill their homes or landscape their yards in a more ecofriendly manner. Some people attending not only appreciated all the plants the event had to offer, but also how informative the experience was for the community.
“It’s nice that they have a few booths in the back to give you information about seeds and a lot of native plants and the research they do. I think that’s fun,” said Esther Alarcón, chemistry Ph.D.
While FloraFest was only open for one day during the Fall 2022 semester, UTEP’s Chihuahuan Desert Gardens plan on hosting another FloraFest in the Spring 2023 semester. The dates are not set yet, but for more information visit utep.edu/centennial-museum/
Meagan Garcia is the arts & culture editor and may be reached at [email protected].
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