Summer garden update

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!

Madison House

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.
Madison House 2015

Well wishes

Sitting here tonight at my kitchen table, tea in hand and the dark penned away, I’d like to reach out for a moment and send best wishes and prayers to a young man who visited the garden only once. His name is Andrew W. and he has the kind of good nature and infectious spirit that makes it a pleasure to share space with him.

Last February I had that opportunity when Andrew visited his brother Henry at UVA and journeyed along when Henry came over to PVCC’s Community Garden with his Madison House team. Henry has been a wonderful volunteer over the last two years, hardworking to the extreme and with a ready smile. He’s brought much to the garden; on this occasion he brought a brother. I enjoyed chatting with the two of them and admired their easy banter while they both worked hard. Theirs was the kind of cheerful, optimistic outlook that pairs so powerfully with a pick up your wheelbarrow and heft it work ethic.

You can see a picture of them among other volunteers in the blog entry from February, 2014. Recently, Henry shared with me that Andrew has been badly injured. I don’t know many of the particulars, but I do know that life is often rough, swift, and unkind. Let us wish this man strength in the midst of his trial and our hope for the fullest recovery possible.

I don’t have Andrew’s email address, but if you wish to send along your thoughts and good wishes, Henry’s email address is

Cav’s Care – The Big Event


This past Saturday we were joined by a group of volunteer from the University of Virginia as part of Cav’s Care through Madison House. Together we continued the work of readying the garden beds for spring planting and weeding the native plant beds. It was just the kind of beautiful morning that makes being outdoors so wonderful. Singing birds, springy soil, and just the right shade of blue in the sky. Buds were swelling and leaves unfurling, all in a silent ode to the wonders of life. Pretty soon those first asparagus will be ready to reveal themselves.

We also planted early(ish) potatoes. Thank you to all the bright and cheerful volunteers who came out Saturday. It was a pleasure spending the morning with you!

Fall gardening

There’s a lot going on in the garden these days. Our turnips are nearly ripe and delicious. We’ll leave most of them in the ground to continue growing and sweetening. If you haven’t tried turnips, you should. Once tasted, they’re unforgettable. Here’s a picture of club President Andrew harvesting a few.

We’re racing to ripen our last fall crop of radishes, beets, lettuce, etc., trying to get them to grow enough before the fall frost sets in. We also need to sow our cover crops before it gets too cold. I’ve just been reading in the newest Mother Earth news about using Austrian winter peas as a cover crop and am excited to try them out.

UVA’s Indian Student Association honors Gandhi

On Sunday, September 21st the UVA Indian Student Association made a return visit the PVCC Community Garden and we much pleased to have hosted them. A few hens from David and Parker Lerman’s home garden were present and largely cuddled. PVCC Environmental and Horticulture Club President Andrew Harriman and Club co-advisor Jennifer Scott were also working in the garden. We had a great time. The students were there to honor Gandhi through service, and did a great job prepping bed number seven so that we can put it into service growing vegetables for the hungry in our community before frost hits.
Thank you ISA for all your hard work on Sunday!

Indian Student Association 2014 5

Indian Student Association 2014 6

Indian Student Association 2014 4

Indian Student Association 2014 1

UVA’s hard working Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity rocks the garden!

What do you do when you’ve got a seriously overgrown garden bed? You call in the calvary, of course!
We had been grooming one bed for the possibility of hens, but never got the hens… so the bed grew rather overgrown. Some of the weeds were over the heads of visitors – and nine year old Parker. See our Facebook page for amazing before and after pictures.
They also weeded some of our blooming and seriously beautiful native plant beds on the exterior of the garden.
Thanks all! Come on back anytime, your enthusiasm was wonderful to behold.

United Way Day of Caring

This past Wednesday was the United Way Day of Caring, the largest volunteer day of the year. We were visited by two teams, Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge and the “Misfits”, plus a few faculty and one PVCC Vice President. A tremendous amount of work was accomplished in just over three hours. Volunteers mowed, trimmed, weeded two large beds, turned the soil over for planting, and removed old construction debris. We are greatly blessed and deeply thankful for everyone’s hard work. Thank you!
Day of Caring 2014 1

Day of Caring 2014 2

Day of Caring 2014 3

Day of Caring 2014 4

UVA’s Project SERVE

Project Serve 2014 1This past Friday the first student group of fall came to the garden to have fun and volunteer. I’m pretty sure that both were had. Approximately a dozen of us toured the garden, admired what was growing, and then got to work pulling the worst of the weeds from one of the garden beds and the exterior beds along the fenced border. They also sampled some asparagus and cleaned up the asparagus bed. Thank you Project SERVE participants, it was a pleasure working in the garden with you.

Summer in the garden

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Scott took two large buckets of harvested garlic to the food bank with two of her children. They also took the time to braid some of the garlic and hang it to dry with care alongside the long handled tools in the shed. Now when one opens the door there’s a great garlicky blast that really gets the nostrils open and the blood circulating!

The garden is really growing fast right now. We’ve had good rains and the weeds are responding enthusiastically. One of the greatest pleasures that I’m experiencing is watching more butterflies than I can remember flitting around the garden zone. This can be attributed not only to the borage, sunflowers, and other reseeding annuals that we’ve planted in cinderblocks, but also to the hundred new native plants that we’ve positioned around the beds that border the fence line. A big thank you to all the hard work that went into creating those beds and also to half a dozen local Master Naturalists who came by to help with the planting on Saturday, June 21st.

One of the other great gifts that the garden provides is the continuing involvement of remarkable individuals. Perhaps once a sufficiency of blood and sweat has been left in a place you are forever tied to it. In the last two days, two former Madison House Project Leaders have visited the garden. Christine Wehner was back in Charlottesville for a visit this past weekend and stopped in a chat – and harvested some okra. The inimitable Sara Elizabeth (two time PVCC Horticulture and Environmental Club President) was found this morning watering the new plants to make sure that they’re firmly established and weathering this steamy July heat.