Spring Update

Plants grow just fine while we humans struggle with how to deal with the coronavirus. So, while things are a little bumpy right now, I urge you to get your hands in the dirt and get that garden growing! Especially in times of stress, focusing on things that make you mindful and happy are very, very important. And there is certainly going to be a need to provide healthy vegetables to the hungry in our community.

UVA has sent their students home and so with a heavy heart I bid adieu to the Madison House garden volunteers. They were a great group, full of joy and energy, and I’m certain that they regret not being able to garden with us this spring. Hopefully many of them will return in the summer and/or fall. A picture of them, joined by another friend or two, is posted below in farewell.

If you are reading this and wish to grow some food this spring/summer, we have bed space available. Contact David Lerman at dlerman@pvcc.edu

From the Dirt

Green Eating in Practice

I would like to showcase some simple recipes that can be made from produce grown in the garden:

Row the Sweet Potato Boat
Ingredients: 1 sweet potato, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper, ½ cup of tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped red onion, 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash the dirt off the sweet potato, tomatoes, and red onion. Cut the sweet potato in half and top it with ½ a teaspoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper. Put the sweet potatoes onto the baking sheet and and roast for 30 minutes. In a pan, roast the tomatoes and onions and add in a ½ teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. When the sweet potatoes are done roasting, top them off with the tomatoes and onion. Bon Appétit!

The ‘Being a Little Nutty is Amazing’ Salad
Ingredients: handful of arugula, handful of kale, ½ cup of tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper

Instructions: Wash the arugula, kale, and tomatoes. Plate the arugula and kale and add the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top and drizzle the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Eat immediately and enjoy!

The Berry Green Salad
Ingredients: handful of spinach, ½ cup of blueberries, ½ cup of sliced strawberries, ½ tablespoon of chopped walnuts, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

Instructions: Wash the spinach, blueberries, and strawberries. Plate the spinach and add the berries on top. Chop up the walnuts and sprinkle on top. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Green Eating: Debunking the Myth

Eating a mainly plant-based diet translates into consuming more whole foods and plants. It may not necessarily mean cutting out animal products completely. A common misconception is that plant-based diets are synonymous with veganism. However, this is false. You can construct your own definition of what a plant-based diet means to you. You can be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivorous. Whatever you label yourself, if you are eating entirely or mostly foods derived from plants, such as vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits, then you eating a mainly plant-based diet.

Now, you may be wondering about the benefits of eating a mainly plant-based diet. Well, you have come to the right place. A plant-based diet can increase your overall health through many avenues. Most notably, it can reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain forms of cancer. In terms of your mental well-being, eating a plant-based diet can make you happier because there is a correlation between increased life satisfaction and filling up on fruits and vegetables. To make this diet even more appealing, it can help you look younger! The vitamins in fruits and vegetables can decrease the signs of aging and reduce the effects of sun damage. Who wouldn’t want to look like they physically time traveled back to the past? If you want to improve your physical and mental health, I encourage you to switch to a mainly plant-based diet. And if you are already eating a mainly plant-based diet, keep doing what you are doing. You got this!

Digging Up the Benefits of Community Gardens

A potential home to native plants, fresh produce, and the insects in the soil. A potential home to me, you, and every human who has ever stepped foot onto this earth. We have the opportunity to make a home like this a reality through the act of gardening. Community gardens are unique spaces that foster serenity, wisdom, patience, creativity, and kindness. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this place of growth? Most of all, community gardens are an integral part of society because they teach life lessons that range from collaboration to flexibility.

Community gardens create a space where various groups can collaborate in order to meet an end goal of harvesting fresh produce. The PVCC Community Garden is maintained by students, faculty, staff, and members within the community. This joining of forces by a diverse set of humans is essential for the success of the PVCC Community Garden, especially if we want a more prosperous harvest. The highest potential of any community garden cannot be achieved without the presence of teamwork. If you were the sole gardener of a community garden, you would be responsible for turning soil, planting seeds, pulling weeds, harvesting produce— the list could go on and on and nothing would get done. Therefore, we learn through the garden that more tomatoes can be grown, more weeds can be pulled, more pepper seeds can be planted, and more kale can be watered if we all collaborate to attain our goals.

The power of a community garden is also its innate ability to teach us how to be flexible no matter the circumstance. In a garden we must always deal with Mother Nature, and take whatever she throws at us to come out on top. At the PVCC Community Garden, if it is raining, we may work inside the hoop house or paint rocks that label our produce. We may not have planned for it to rain, but we have learned how to shift our agenda in order to cope with the change in weather. Flexibility is not a natural trait within us; it must be taught by an outside source, such as a garden. Hence, the community garden has enabled us to gain the ability of improvisation in that we can easily make-do with a variety of situations.

Overall, the PVCC Community Garden, like any community garden, is a source of life lessons that teaches us the power of cooperation and flexibility. Without a doubt, I thank the PVCC Community Garden for instilling within me just how far teamwork and adaptability can go when there is a final goal in mind. As we continue to plant more seeds into the soil, I will always remember that the garden has planted a seed of lessons within me that will continue to grow and prosper. My hope is that the PVCC Community Garden will plant that same seed in everyone else who volunteers at the garden.

UVA’s Madison House

This past Friday nearly two dozen UVA students sat around a table at the back of a school building and talked about their visions of the future for a community garden. UVA has two community gardens but here’s the thing. These UVA students volunteer through Madison House and have chosen to devote themselves to the PVCC Community Garden. Many of them also were with us last year. I would like to take a moment to say thank you for their generosity of spirit, hard work, and compassion. They are just the nicest group of young men and women that you could possibly wish to meet.

Loss of a Fellow Community Garden

Reporters Emily Hays and Zack Wajsgras have done a nice piece in Charlottesville Tomorrow about the demise of the Friendship Court community garden. I’ll place the link below and I urge you to read it, if only in memoriam for someplace that truly meant a great deal to a great many people. As a community gardener, I greatly admired the work that was done there and over the hundreds, maybe thousands of times that I drove by, I would always glance over to see the orderly rows of glistening growing plants. Let us hope that this passing of a fellow community garden is only a temporary dry spell and that it will spring up reborn in a new setting very soon.


Recent News

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates to the blog. A full month ago we were the beneficiaries of a wonderful visit by UVA’s Office of Engagement. They came for the United Way Day of Caring and worked really hard, getting the garden a lot further in a number of important areas including organizing the shed, clearing beds, the hoop house, and working on shoring up the exterior fence.

We also have continued to benefit from UVA’s Madison House continuing to come on Fridays and Sundays. It has been a long, hot few few months and while now the weather has cooled and turned wetter, it has been difficult to bring in a good crop. Still, we are trying to bring something in if we can catch one hungry, hungry groundhog. We caught one, but he/she seems to have a partner in crime.

Now we are working to wrap up the season. We’ve got plants going in the hoop house, the beds nearly pathed, mulched, and cover cropped. And a recent large donation of organic seeds was delivered by a seed company that wishes to remain anonymous but we send them our grateful thanks.

Project SERVE

UVA’s Project SERVE occurred Friday and we received their offered service with much gladness. The men and women weeded the Hemingway bed that had gotten overgrown, planted and watered it. Just like that one of the garden’s eight beds was growing food for the hungry in our community.

Summer plots

There’s so much growing in the garden’s beds that I just had to start this hot summer Sunday with a few pictures to share the pleasure. Enjoy!