Katharine Belter, a senior biology student, organized the event.
“It’s been done at UNC before, but this is my second year organizing it,” Belter said. “I think it got started when someone saw farmers in the Midwest doing weed dating and pairing up. It’s good for bringing people together but we didn’t want to put too much emphasis on the dating part.”
With a name like Weed Dating, confusion could arise. At least one person posting on the events Facebook page thought it was about marijuana.
However, that was far from the truth as UNC students got down and dirty on their hands and knees by making friendships as they tended to the community garden.
Soumaya Lansari, a global studies and sociology double major, wasn’t confused.
“I saw it in chalk in front of the Undergraduate Library and I thought it’d be cool to go,” Lansari said. “I really love gardening but don’t really have the time for it.”
Curious and needing to de-stress myself as much as possible before UNC’s Final Four game, I participated in the event. Weed Dating was a dirty, sweaty, fun affair.
Belter started the event by explaining the purpose of the Carolina Campus Community Garden: to grow produce for the lower-wage workers at UNC-Chapel Hill while providing education on sustainable organic gardening and community service.
Grabbing a pair of gloves and some scissors, I trailed into the garden with around a dozen other students and volunteers to harvest lettuce.
As Belter said, the event was about bringing people together and not so much about dating. I soon found myself chatting about compost with those around me as I snipped lettuce stalks.
After we harvested the lettuce, we picked some strawberries but then got to the main event: weeding.
Armed with trowels, we set about digging up weeds from a grape vine.
Biology student Dana Metzger was digging across from me and almost ran afoul some fire ants, but was able to escape before the ants could get on her.
Once we finished weeding, we picnicked.
There was cucumber water to drink and black bean or spinach hummus with chips, chocolate-chip sweet potato bread and homemade chocolate-chip cookies to eat.
Talking with the participants afterwards, most of them were impressed by the garden and were interested in coming back.
“We volunteer here as part of our APPLES course, but I definitely think I’ll keep volunteering here even after the course is over,” Makala Moyer, who was there with her sister Mariah, said.
“Gardening brings back a lot of memories from my childhood with my aunt and grandma,” she said. “I also really like the mission of the garden.”