Prepping for spring

Today the garden shone from the rain of the last two days, but it was dry enough to work. The light was great, the sun trying to get from behind the clouds and illuminating the yellow and orange leaves around the garden.
Ben and Logan from Madison House came over for a few hours and we turned over one of the raised beds, shoveling out the path into next year’s growing areas and incorporating some recently donated aged manure, then taking some donated mulch to rebuild the pathway. It looks great and should be a great growing medium for next spring. See for yourself!

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A day with Phi Sigma Pi

On Sunday, October 15th four UVA students in the gender inclusive Phi Sigma Pi service fraternity came to volunteer in the garden. We learned all about what happens in the community garden and readied one of the raised beds for spring, weeding, trenching and cover cropping. Meanwhile, Mary Beth and her two daughters, Ella and a new friend from her workplace worked in the hoop house and one of the garden beds, planting seeds, layering mulch, dividing irises, etc. We had a wonderful day. Pictured is the crew from Phi Sigma Pi.

Late summer’s events

Trying to get caught up on events that have been occurring. We were visited by UVA students participating in Project SERVE and played host to teams from UVA and Enterprise during the United Way Day of Caring. UVA’s Madison House has returned to the garden this fall too! Thank you, everyone! The garden is looking very good as the weather begins to turn cool.

Kohlrabi

Henry,
This one’s for you! Hope NY is treating you well and you find yourself some soil to grow in. Working in the garden this fine Saturday morning, I watched a blue heron take off and soar. Maybe it was the early heat, but it felt metaphorical.

One Friday, two interns

The weather is getting hotter, but our two interns are still wearing smiles. Here are Izaiah and Zavion on their second Friday, prepping the next bed for fall crop planting.

Summer gardening interns

Two new interns through the Community Attention Youth Internship Program (CAYIP) are joining us for six weeks in the garden this summer. They are getting an education about what it takes to keep a garden growing in the warm weather – lots of watering! Plus weeding, harvesting, and general upkeep. Last Friday, for instance, they harvested red potatoes which were later brought to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Izaiah and Zavion, we hope that you have a wonderful experience interning in the community garden!

Manure

Recently we tested a few of our eight raised beds and found that they’re generally in good shape but could use a few amendments. A local farmer was awesome enough to drop us off a load of manure to help improve soil fertility. I don’t know if he’d wish to be named and run the risk of everyone flocking to him, but we’re very grateful!
The local extension office does a very quick and useful soil test, just in case anyone isn’t already aware.

UVA’s The Big Event

On Saturday, April 8th. students participating in UVA’s Big Event came to the garden. We had a lot of fun working in the native plant beds and prepping some of the vegetable beds for planting. April is Charlottesville’s most beautiful month and we are looking good with spring planting!

Revving up for Spring

We’re still weeks away from the last frost date for this region, but things are heating up in the garden. Madison House has begun visiting, the beds are tilled up the asparagus are starting to rise (sounds like fly fishing), and the flats in the hoop house have inhabitants that are getting hopeful. Some of the beds have already been planted with potatoes, onions, and garlic. Thanks to club volunteers, community volunteers, and visiting students from UVA’s Women’s Leadership Development program!

A 2016 Thank You

Welcome to 2017!

While it may be cold outside and the possibility of snow is looming, I’d like to take just a moment to look back at the 2016 year and thank those who volunteered in the community garden.

Last year we added the local Salvation Army to those receiving food from us. The other recipients were Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and The Haven. Recent reports state that one in seven Americans is food insecure and rely on local food pantries, shelters, or aid in order to feed themselves or their family. As a part of the system of community gardens and school gardens in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area, there is much that we can contribute in order to help those less fortunate around us. With a good effort this year, we can raise more food than ever before.

Led by community volunteer Ella, our hoop house now has a second plastic skin on the interior and insulated front and back sides, as well as a venting system designed to open when it begins to get too hot inside. The tables have been arranged for maximum usefulness and rocks, cinderblocks, and water barrels are adding thermal mass. Together, these actions and a few others unmentioned will help us begin spring growth earlier and get an excellent crop ready for transplant when the frost date passes.

Let by community volunteer Mary Beth, our compost bins and contents are in better shape than ever, and one of our large, raised beds is sheet mulching over the fall and winter. Come spring, that soil will be full of earthworm castings and decomposed into some gorgeous black gold. We are also attempting through multiple means to control the mugwort growth in some areas where it was rampant. Volunteer Hannah planted some winter grains that we will chop back into the soil where their decomposition will replenish that particular bed’s fertility.

Our native plant borders and beds have been in the process of being labeled by highly decorated and exotic rocks. If you haven’t seen them, they’re the best plant labels ever!
David