Take a New Look at Home Décor During OCtech Foundation’s Spring Symposium

Photo of Home and Garden Symposium logo 2016A table of brightly colored vegetables, a bag of surprise ingredients and 20 minutes to pull it all together for a festive arrangement in front of a live audience.

Cathy Hughes, publisher of The Times and Democrat, and Daryl Cate, owner of The Garden Gate Florist, will battle for the best decorative vegetable arrangement during Vegetable Wars – just one of the highlights of this year’s Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation Home and Garden Symposium, set for Wednesday, May 11, in the college’s Math and Science Center.

“Decorating with vegetables is completely different than decorating with flowers, so I’m going to try to rely on my creativity to get me through this,” Cate said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a fun event with a great twist for the audience – and no matter what the arrangements look like, you can always make soup!”

Vegetable Wars is modeled after the popular Food Network shows “Chopped” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.” Piggly Wiggly is supplying the vegetables for the competition. The only thing the competitors will bring to the table is their imaginations and a container for their creations.

Hughes, who serves as chair of the OCtech Foundation Board, said she’s honored to be sharing the stage with Cate.

“To try to create a vegetable arrangement in 20 minutes is challenge enough, but going up against the talent of a professional designer like Daryl makes me the definite underdog,” she said. “I think I’d rather be cooking the vegetables than arranging them. I’m just hoping the mystery basket ingredients and the ‘no flowers’ rule will throw him off his game just enough to give me a chance to be competitive.”

Vegetable Wars takes the place of Dueling Designers, which has been a part of the Foundation’s signature spring event since 2014, and will be featured between the event speakers’ presentations. Judging the competition will be keynote speaker and horticulturalist Jim Martin, Super-Sod CEO Jim Roquemore, and Dr. Mark and Linda McGannon, co-chairs of this year’s Home and Garden Symposium.

“Each year, we try to focus on a theme that we hope will offer something new and different. This year we are celebrating vegetables,” Linda McGannon said. “Our main speaker, Jim Martin, will entertain and inform us about the ‘farm-to-table’ movement, and what those buzz words can really mean for us as growers and consumers. I have always wanted to learn more about the advantages of growing vegetables in raised-bed gardens, and Hillary Thompson will walk us through how to create and use raised beds.”

The Home and Garden Symposium will begin with Flower Show entry drop-off from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., followed by a silent auction featuring diverse outdoor and garden-inspired items and a brunch catered by Buckridge Plantation from 10 to 11:45 a.m. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the Flower Show and purchase plants following the presentations.

“We encourage men and women to come out and enjoy this special day of learning and sharing about vegetable gardening,” Dr. McGannon said. “Most gardeners have at least one tomato or pepper planted amid their flowers and herbs. This will be a fun day to talk with other gardeners, enjoy a delicious brunch and support the OCtech Foundation.”

Tickets to the Home and Garden Symposium are $45 per person. Funds raised assist in providing scholarships for deserving OCtech students and other projects at the college. This year’s signature sponsor is Super-Sod.

For more information or tickets, call the Foundation office at 803-535-1246, email pearsonmq@octech.edu or visit www.octech.edu.