44 clubs participate in annual 4-H flower sale

GOSHEN — A line of trucks, some pulling long livestock trailers, stretched out of the beef barn at both ends as Renee Klein called out flower orders at the 4-H fairgrounds Wednesday.

“Thirteen white!” or “Fourteen pink!” the assistant club leader would holler across the barn as volunteers loaded as many hanging baskets or flats of geraniums into waiting vehicles. It was pickup day at the end of the 38th annual flower sale fundraiser, and the 80-plus member beef club comes out on top more often than not.

“We are the biggest-selling club. We sold over $27,000 worth,” Klein said. “It’s our biggest fundraiser for our club. We just have a lot of dedication – people really seem to enjoy doing this part of our fundraiser.”

Her club sold nearly 500 hanging baskets and over 12,000 flats. That made up a good share of the 3,500 baskets and 56,000 flats that the 44 participating 4-H clubs sold altogether, according to Penny Stroup, leader of the Lucky 4-H Club.

The Elkhart County 4-H program buys the flowers from a Michigan wholesaler. She said they took delivery of the flowers in a semi trailer and a box truck Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Back in the day we used to sell 120,000 geraniums, before we started selling the baskets,” she said. “It’s really been a very good fundraiser for us through the years.”

Stroup said for many of the local clubs, the geranium sale is the only fundraiser of the year. She said they often use the money for awards and scholarships for members.

Klein said the beef club puts much of theirs toward barn maintenance.

“Building improvements, doing special events for the club itself,” she said. “Mainly for building improvements.”

She said the fundraiser sees a lot of repeat customers year after year.

“They get an order form and each kid is responsible for getting their own,” she said. “Like, my son, I have had the same people buy every year that we’ve done it. It just depends on how many each person wants. Our kids used to go door to door.”

She paused to call out another order being picked up.

“With this many, it gets a lot of yelling,” Klein said. “It’s a little chaotic.”