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.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and sunny, a rarity in recent weeks, and scores of campers from the wonderful Triple C camp visited the garden. A few weeks ago a mostly different set of campers had visited, but a few of the campers had been to the garden before and came back like old friends. Plenty of camp counselor were in attendance as well.
Together we tackled one bed so overgrown that the weeds tickled some of the camper’s chins. By the time they were done the bed was completely cleared, except for the healthy asparagus patch set to one side, and a few squash plants that had been living among the green exuberance.
Thanks to Ben, Alexandra, Coach and all the other staff and campers for their sweat and diligent volunteerism. We’ll now be able to get that bed planted for fall!
Also, I was able to run some fresh squash and cukes over to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Wednesday. The food bank reported that they’ve been getting some good donations of locally grown fresh vegetables. Way to go, Charlottesville!
We’ve had good weather this summer so far, perhaps a bit hotter and drier than one would prefer for the garden, but not too bad. The native plants in particular that we’re planted last year are doing marvelously. Because we dug in plants that are adapted for this region, once they rooted well there isn’t much to do except sit back and enjoy them. In particular I love watching the eager grasp of the passionflower vines as they pull towards the top of our fence, their fragrant purple and yellow faces smiling along with mine at all the bees that buzz excitedly nearby. The smell is heavenly and reaches out to turn your head a good five feet away.
A heartfelt thank you to PVCC employees Chris Wyatt, Jennifer Scott, Hunter Moore, and Tom Clarkson. Chris and his daughter Georgia are newcomers to the garden. They’ve weeded, mowed, planted, done work on the irrigation system, and helped neaten up the garden area this summer. Jennifer is club co-advisor and has steadfastly been working in the garden, beating back the mugwort, staking the tomatoes, and generally doing a bit of everything. Next week she’s going to lead a volunteer group of 40 or so summer campers through the garden for a few morning hours. Hunter has volunteered to help with the design and implementation of the garden’s irrigation system, including finding funding for necessary parts. Tom Clarkson has been a supporter for many years and, when he sees the weeds getting a little high, kindly donates his superb little tiller to the cause. There are others to thank too, but I think that shall be left for another blog post.
Interested in getting involved and have a few hours free? We’re still looking for volunteers to work with…
Enjoy your gardening!
We are deeply indebted to the wonderful teams from Madison House that have volunteered in the garden this past spring and fall. Led by Project Leaders Varun Kavuru and Chris Porter, one team came to the garden on Friday afternoons at 3:00 and another team came on Sundays at noon. That’s pretty great dedication! Thank you to all of them for their hard work and spirit of fun in the garden. We would not have anywhere near the garden that we have were it not for their efforts.