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SNAPSHOTS: Gilroy Rotary Club Taps Into Flower Power

Gilroy's Rotarians held their annual Flower Fest Saturday at Sygenta Flowers to raise $40,000 for scholarships and community programs.

A spacious greenhouse on the grounds of Syngenta Flowers was bursting with every kind of peony, petunia and pansy Saturday for the Gilroy Rotary Club's annual Flower Fest.

The event, in its tenth year at Syngenta, aims to raise money for various rotary club projects, including scholarships, through the sale of flowers and plants donated by Syngenta growers.

Organizers estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 flowers and plants were on sale. Close to 1,000 people made their way through the greenhouse's doors, most leaving with carts laden with plants ready to be potted.

"I don't know of any event like this," said Joel Goldsmith, a rotary club member and the retired president of Goldsmith Seeds, which produces seeds for Syngenta. "To have this kind of plant material donated to us and raising the kind of money that we do. We get asked by other rotary clubs how we put on an event like this."

Jill Fortino, owner of and a rotary club member, gave herself a $1,000 spending limit at the sale. She was on her third trip to pick up flowers for her business and her home.

"These plants have incredible quality and are longer lasting," she said. "I'm on my last $100, so I have to pick wisely."

By the time the sale wrapped up at 3 p.m., the greenhouse was nearly gutted of flora. All that remained was available for half price.

"We saw the sign on the side of the road and decided to drop in," said Morgan Hill resident Joy Joyner who brought her mother along with her. "We are both container gardeners, so we are always looking for stuff to put in pots," she said.

Joyner said her favorite find was the trailing petunias.

"I've never seen them before," she said. "I think I'm in love."

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