September updates

Lots of action happening in the community garden these days! A few notes:
1. Twenty-five people have signed up to come to the community garden for the United Way Day of Caring from 9-12 on Sept. 26th. All PVCC students are also welcome.
2. UVA’s Phi Sigma Pi came out to the garden and worked 3-5 last Friday along with four member of the PVCC club, then UVA’s Project SERVE came out from 10-12 and were joined by one PVCC student and club member. I was able to be there with both groups.
3. A young man interested in horticulture, Ben, has begun working in the garden on Wednesdays and Fridays for a few hours each day. Please come and join him. We still have over a dozen community members who are participating in the garden at various days/times and would love to show you around. Erin Hughey-Commers dropped off onions and potatoes harvested this weekend to the food bank today.
4. UVA’s Madison House had 17 people sign up to work in the garden this year and will be beginning in the garden starting as early as next week.

We’re still working through upgrades to the irrigation system and trying to get the fall crop planted. Stay tuned!


Today’s harvest

Getting back to the garden today after vacation, I hoed up some potatoes and red onions. That felt great, and I was able to turn over the soil at the same time, serving both the purpose of weeding and beginning the readying of the bed for fall planting. Got a bunch of cherry tomatoes too, along with some basil and a few squashes that Denise handed over from her plot. In the lessons learned section, some of the potatoes were green. White, yellow, red, and purple potatoes are good. Green ones are not. Potatoes that are tinged greenish have been exposed to sun and the green is actually chlorophyll. They also contain solanine and are bitter to the taste and can induce nausea. Lesson? Plant you potatoes deeper and hill them up a bit more as you go.

Still, it will be a nice donation to the Food Bank tomorrow (Thanks, Erin).

Today’s dropoff at The Haven

One of our volunteers took some harvest to our friends at The Haven today. Thank you, Allyson!

It’s June and here comes Triple C Camp’s Teen Scene!

Last week we were visited by 36 campers aged 12-14 who, as part of their summer experience, visit schools and non-profit locations and provide help with projects. At the community garden these young men and women helped with weeding and planting, keeping the beds in good working order and helping us grow more food for the hungry in our community. It was very hot and thankfully they had brought plenty of water, because many of them worked hard! We had a number of good conversations and laughter all around. Well done, and thanks for coming to the community garden.

Summer 2018

We have had an influx of new volunteers to the garden recently and they’re bringing great energy and enthusiasm to the team. Not that our existing volunteers aren’t passionate, it’s simply that new people bring a certain something special to the place. With all this rain – and all this enthusiasm – the garden is really starting to shape up for summer!

I also want to take note of the iris blooming around the hoop house. This was Ella’s idea, one of many, and it really beautifies the space. Eventually we hope to have plants rimming the entire structure. I’ve also included a picture of the recently planted Jane Austen bed.

We have only a few weeks before Japanese beetle season arrives and I thought that people who garden without insecticides would enjoy this article from the website

PVCC’s Eco Fair April 11th and two job openings

Two job openings have come to our recent attention.

Sharondale Farm, a mushroom farm in Cismont (Keswick) is l looking for more help.

The Inn at Little Washington, in Washington, VA is in search of an Estate Gardener. For more information, contact Lauren Shreve, HR Director at

I would also like to tout PVCC’s upcoming Eco-Fair on Wednesday, April 11th from 11:00 – 1:00. Free and open to the community, guests will include: Virginia Organizing, VSEC, Sierra Club, UVA Sustainability, and the Climate Reality Project. There will be plants, a tree giveaway, education and more. Also on campus at the same time will be the wonderful International Food Festival.

Earth Guardian club advisor Kristy Simpkins was on WINA yesterday talking about it.

Upcoming VA Festival of the Book events

We have been asked by the wonderful VA Festival of the Book to bring awareness to the following items of interest and we’re happy to do so. You can see the full schedule at These events are free and I highly encourage you to check them out!

Cooking Demo with Ken Haedrich
Thu. March 22, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Charlottesville Cooking School
Ken Haedrich (The Harvest Baker) gives a cooking demonstration from his cookbook, celebrating the fresh-picked flavors of fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Charlottesville Cooking School

Cooking Demo with Jamie DeMent
Thu. March 22, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM at the Charlottesville Cooking School
Jamie DeMent (The Farmhouse Chef) gives a cooking demonstration from her cookbook, featuring recipes and stories from her North Carolina farm.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Charlottesville Cooking School

Letters to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming, and Our Future
Thu. March 22, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Letters to a Young Farmer anthology contributors Eliot Coleman, Barbara Damrosch, Karen Washington, and Jill Isenbarger discuss the the highs and lows of farming life—as well as larger questions of how our food is produced and consumed—in vivid and personal detail.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Cooking Demo with Lindsey Smith
Thu. March 22, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at the Charlottesville Cooking School
Lindsey Smith (Eat Your Feelings) gives a cooking demonstration from her cookbook, featuring recipes to transform emotional eating and improve your mood.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Charlottesville Cooking School

Cooking Demo with Barbara Pleasant
Thu. March 22, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Charlottesville Cooking School
Barbara Pleasant (Homegrown Pantry) gives a cooking demonstration from her cookbook, featuring recipes inspired by her guide to year-round, garden-based planting and eating.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Charlottesville Cooking School

The Poetics of Food & Farming
Fri. March 23, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM at New Dominion Bookshop
Tess Taylor (Work & Days) and Karen Washington (Letters to a Young Farmer) discuss the intersection of farming and verse, and the connections that may be made through food and writing.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund

Eat Me: Cookbooks for All Tastes and Moods
Fri. March 23, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM at Barnes & Noble Charlottesville
Jamie DeMent (The Farmhouse Chef), Ken Haedrich (The Harvest Baker), Barbara Pleasant (Homegrown Pantry), and Lindsey Smith (Eat Your Feelings) share stories about their time in the kitchen and garden.
Sponsored by the Ballyshannon Fund; Hosted by the Charlottesville Cooking School

Upcoming Film opportunity

I would like to let everyone know about the film screening of the documentary Chasing Coral next Thursday, February 22 at 6pm at UVA’s Kardinal Hall.

It will be free and open to the public. More details can be found on the facebook event here:

Film event – “Hometown Habitat” February 11th

Wildlife habitat isn’t just wide open spaces and dense green forests. Habitat can be created almost anywhere. This free educational event features a screening of Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home, the acclaimed film that shows homeowners, landowners and community leaders how to improve wildlife habitat and revitalize ecosystems right in their own backyards and neighborhoods.

The Hometown Habitat screening event will be held Sunday, February 11, 2018, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, at The Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) in Charlottesville, Virginia. [Snow date is February 18, 2018.] Preregistration is not required, and no reservations or advance tickets will be made. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. All ages are welcome. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be available.

Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home is produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Catherine Zimmerman and highlights community landscaping projects that use native plants to support local ecosystems ( Based on the scientific research of Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of the acclaimed book Bringing Nature Home, the film includes interviews with Tallamy, who describes how native plants in our landscapes are crucial to sustaining insects, birds and other wildlife. Zimmerman will be in Charlottesville for the February 11 event to introduce the film, and selected segments will be shown.

Immediately following the screening will be a panel discussion by a great line-up of local experts, including landscape architect Kennon Williams, Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council, and Devin Floyd of the Center for Urban Habitats.

Exhibits by local organizations that promote native plants and habitats will also be available, and free native plants will be given out as door prizes.

This “Hometown Habitat” Screening Event is SPONSORED BY the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Habitat Partners© Program and the Piedmont Virginia Community College Horticulture and Environmental Club.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about this Event and other Native Plant activities in Central Virginia, CONTACT Liz Sidamon-Eristoff,

• DGIF Habitat Partners©

• Virginia Native Plant Society

• PIEDMONT NATIVES – Plant Database

• Plant Virginia Natives – Regional Plant Guides

• Bringing Nature Home – Native Gardening and Biodiversity (Doug Tallamy)


Capturing 2017 Fall

Dear Friends,
This weekend marks the ending of the year and I would just like to take a moment to thank a few of the many people who have volunteered in the garden this fall, for what is the ending of a year if not an opportunity to think about the year past and begin dreaming about the future?
This past Sunday morning, for instance, Ella brought to Steve to the garden. She is always talking with people about the community garden and Steve knows quite a bit about identifying our native plants, even if their winter phase. We walked the garden perimeter and he not only helped name some of those there, but offered to come back later to figure out even more. Not bad at all for a cold, first time visit to the garden!
There are many plants growing in our hoop house, more than any year at this time, and I am very curious to see how they will do over the next ten day span of colder weather. Though we put extra insulation and added a second skin to the hoop house, it may not yet be able to grow plants in all winter long without a heat source, but we are experimenting. Some of our hardier plants like collards, kale, leaks, onions, spinach and some varieties of lettuce should be fine, I think.
Mary Beth has been a stalwart volunteer, often bringing her two daughters along to the garden, and tackling project after project. Chris W. continues to mow, trim, till and tend to many of the garden’s other needs. If something needs doing, often one of these three are the first to volunteer and have been doing so steadily for years.
We also had Hannah and Jennie volunteering through the year, Brian, Thomas, and Henry too. Chris H. led a group of UVA students through Madison House and Phi Sigma Pi was there. Many others too who I don’t want to feel unappreciated, for the community garden is a place for people to come together and we need more growing spaces like this, more community, especially in Charlottesville in the wake of this fall’s events. Growing plants, especially food, is nothing if not an endeavor which requires a goodly measure of faith and optimism.
Best wishes to everyone and thank you for being a part of our shared bit of a dream.