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We were recently visited by a group of spirited volunteers from UVA’s Phi Sigma Pi. This was not their first visit to the garden and I hope it will not be their last. Led by Daniel Murrow, volunteers included:
Emily Kovalenko, Abby Deatherage, Haley Hollen, Brian Furr, Elizabeth Harris, Paxton Le Roy, Dylan Ward, Zulfiqar Mohamedshah, JP Riggle, and Chris Wiens.
We walked around and observed what was growing in the vegetable beds, talked about gardening do’s and don’ts, agreed to plant more aspargus and tasted the ripening passionfruits.
We also worked on cleaning and clearing the native plant beds that have such a wonderful success this year.
Sunday was such a wonderful day that I’m going to have to break my posting into two parts. On top of a week where I got to meet garden volunteer Alan, who’s journal entries and volunteer work in the garden I’ve been so much enjoying, and further on top of Wunderkind volunteer Ella, who has moved into the garden and seemingly lives there, this week saw the resumption of UVA’s Madison House coming to the garden to volunteer.
This is the fifth season that volunteers from Madison House have chosen to come to PVCC garden and I have to take a moment to thank those who have returned for two, three, and even four years. Led again this year by Varun Kavuru, we also have the stalwarts Chris Porter, Henry Wykowski, Owen Robinson, and Malcolm Maloney. These guys are awesome! We don’t need to give them much guidance anymore. They walk in and own the garden. They’ve also got a bunch of new volunteers working alongside them that we’re looking forward to working with this semester and just possibly, for many years to come.
Madison House volunteers will be coming to the garden on Fridays at 3:00 and Sundays at noon.
We were graced a second time season by angels from the Junior League of Charlottesville. As the sun was starting throw spanners off the hipped green roof of the nearby Dickinson building, all was smiles and sparkle as members of the fabulous league got a tour of the garden and then, as one could clearly see that this is a group that wants to WORK, we got down to the serious work of thinning plants. I call it plant murdering and find it causes some inner turmoil, but thinning too closely planted crops is an essential part of this business.
Weather permitting, the Junior League will be back to visit us for one more time from 9:00-11:00 this coming Sunday.
On September 20th members of UVA’s Indian Student Association came to volunteer in the garden in honor of Gandhi Day. This annual day of service by this group has become something that we look forward to as we begin to get into late September. The day’s temperature was a bit high but so were the spirits and we passed the day with laughter and good conversation.
What an exciting day we had Saturday! For starters, it rained heavily overnight and was looking off and on rainy throughout the day, so with heavy heart I contacted Juliet Trail and left a phone message calling off the volunteer team that she’d assembled to visit the garden in the afternoon. Making those calls isn’t fun, but no coordinator ever wants volunteers to have a bad experience, and for many people working in a garden in the rain is less than fun. For others it can still be wonderful but those people are rare.
Saturday was also the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. When I called off the volunteers I stayed longer at the awesome festival, then took a bus back to PVCC where the transportation was being staged. Arriving, I was pretty surprised to see a group of about a dozen people working in the community garden! It turned out that Juliet hadn’t gotten my message, the rain let up, and she decided to just go ahead with the workday even though no representative of the garden showed up. Not bad, Juliet, not bad at all.
Juliet was coordinating this event at part of Guilford College’s Day of Service happening at sites up and down the east coast. She contacted our local Tandem Friends School, a Quaker school like Guilford, and recruited Tandem seniors to join her helping in the garden growing food to feed the hungry. She also brought some friends with her. Erin Hughey-Commers also came to the garden and brought her little sister Alyriah.
The seniors did a wonderful job in two previously tilled up beds. They weeded profusely, prepared the beds for planting, and then planted them up! We also went around the garden learning about herbs, asparagus, passionfruit, and methods for growing tomatoes.
Thanks for a wonderful day!
August 28th saw a return visit by UVA’s Project SERVE, a thoroughly wholesome and hardworking crew, who just chewed through all the work that we’d laid out for volunteers in nothing flat! This group comes back every year and is just amazing. Whatever their recruiting process is, whatever they do to ensure quality, everyone should take notes. They get some incredible volunteers year after year. And if that weren’t enough, they’ve got the inimitable Hannah Crockett with them! Thanks also to Madeline Bishop and everyone else who came out that day.
More information about Project SERVE can be found here.
On August 16th we were visited by the fun loving, seriously service oriented women of the local Junior League. Those ladies got down and worked! We had a great morning of conversation and ground clearing, getting ready for the fall planting. Thanks to everyone who came, especially Siri Russell for coordinating. Ladies, we hope to see you again soon.
Just a quick note that we’re almost ready for the return of the students. Groups are contacting us to book time in the garden for fall and the bountiful squash just keep on growing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them. Thanks to those few hardworking souls who have helped keep the garden together this summer.
This past Sunday found me praying, head down in the weeds. Literally. The area near the garden gate has become a bit overgrown and keeping up with the garden space in the summer is all about triage! That said, the entrance does set the stage, and I dislike presenting our worst parts first. Finding our native wildflowers amidst the native summer weeds was a bit thrilling. They’ve really done quite well this past year and the exterior beds have been quite beautiful, more than ever before. The work was a bit of the slog and there was no one about, but the day was brightened when a passing woman walking three dogs tossed a breezy “the garden looks beautiful” over her shoulder and I realized again how many people see and enjoy the community garden. Sometimes when you get too close all you see are the flaws and it takes a stranger to remind you how wonderful something is.