With the scent of French lavender and the happy chatter of gathered friends in the air, the La Jolla Garden Club held its scholarship luncheon at the La Jolla Country Club on May 17 – the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago.
The event served as the annual members’ luncheon and an opportunity to distribute scholarships to those exploring the horticultural field.
Throughout the year, the club raises funds through membership dues and events to create scholarships for students at Southwestern, MiraCosta, and Cuyamaca Community Colleges in San Diego County.
This is in addition to projects to spruce up La Jolla, including maintaining the corner patio at Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street, where the club has installed a bench and planters, and delivering flower arrangements to places like the La Jolla/Riford library.
This year’s recipients are Aundrea Williams from Southwestern College, Patricia Welling from Cuyamaca College, and Carly Bethune and Holly Boyce from MiraCosta College. The club did not disclose the amount of its rewards.
During the presentation of the winners, Mary Mitchell, Past President of the La Jolla Garden Club, said, “We are delighted to have you here and we are delighted to be able to help you, in a modest way, to further your education so that you can continue your commitment to the field we all love.
Williams, who was not at lunch, is the mother of two young children whose horticultural interest is farming, Mitchell said. “She works outside of her school commitments at a community garden in City Heights … which was one of the first refugee community gardens in the country and is now 10 years old,” Mitchell added.
Williams also volunteers with other nonprofits and has won awards for her involvement. She hopes to have her own farm one day, Mitchell said.
Welling’s interest in horticulture stemmed in part from time she spent in a garden while her military husband was deployed. Additionally, his current property had a coastal live oak tree that was diseased and had to be removed.
This encouraged his interest in discovering what plant life needs.
“She has an emotional connection to what she’s learning,” Mitchell said.
Welling, now a grandmother and part-time student, teaches her grandchildren gardening.
“She has a special love for native plants…and wants to work for her community in hopes that community beautification will bring more pride to the citizens there,” Mitchell said.
Bethune has 20 years of experience in horticulture, including retail and plant design, but recently decided she wanted a degree in the field, hoping to teach and mentor others. other students and to help other women advance in horticulture, Mitchell said.
Bethune’s interests include native California plants, landscaping and commercial nurseries. She wants to start an urban micro-farm, which she describes as “a very small farm in an urban setting”. She said she hopes to turn her quarter-acre backyard into a food grove to “feed our family and… feed our neighbors’ families as well.”
Boyce, a work-study student who has a family background of farming in Nebraska and Georgia, hiked a lot in the woods as a child and picked lots of edible plants, Mitchell said.
“Now she is interested in subsistence farming and… is earning her associate’s degree in agriculture and obtaining certification in nursery crop production.”
The La Jolla Garden Club was established in 1968 and meets monthly from September to May. Members and visitors exchange ideas and experiences, and speakers give their opinions on various garden-related topics. The meetings were recently brought back in person after being held online during the pandemic.
Learn more about lajollagardenclub.org. ◆