Jun 25th, 2016

CarMax Cares for Our Garden

carmax associates in the community kitchen garden

This group of CarMax associates spent a sunny day working in the Community Kitchen Garden, but took a quick break to take some photos. They were all smiles!

CarMax Cares about our Garden

What would you do with 295 hours? You could sleep for 16 days straight, or brush your teeth 8,850 times. Or you could help with community-improving projects by volunteering all of those hours with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. That’s exactly what the CarMax Foundation is doing during the month of June.

This month, 95 CarMax associates are well on their way to completing 295 hours of volunteer service in the Community Kitchen Garden and the Children’s Garden. June is CarMax Cares month, Natalie Wyatt, Treasurer of the CarMax Foundation, explained. Each year during the month of June, CarMax goes on a philanthropy extravaganza, volunteering and building relationships with many different community organizations. Lucky for us, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of them.

CarMax Associates weed in the CKG; CarMax Associates fill the back of a golf cart with weeds

Left: CarMax associates weeding squash plants.  Right: Look at all the weeds they pulled. Now our squash doesn’t have to compete with weeds for water, nutrients, and sunlight.

CarMax is making a difference in the Community Kitchen Garden.

So far this month, two teams of CarMax associates have assisted with different projects in the Community Kitchen Garden, like weeding, pruning tomato plants, and tying pepper plants.  Their efforts help to maximize the amount of food we can grow in our garden, all of which will be donated to FeedMore to provide sustenance for Central Virginia’s neediest citizens. During peak harvest season, we deliver fresh produce from our garden to FeedMore several times a week.

Laura Schumm, Community Kitchen Garden Horticulturist, summed up the importance of CarMax’s volunteer efforts: “The staff we have designated to work in the Community Kitchen Garden is myself and sometimes one intern or gardener in addition. It’s a lot of garden to tend for one or two people. There’s no way we could do everything without the help of our volunteers.”

two carmax associates weeding the ckg

By volunteering together, CarMax associates get to know each other in a different setting.

Together, we’re on a mission to feed more.

In addition to weeding, CarMax associates have helped tie tomato and pepper plants, keeping the plants off the ground so they can thrive.  “Pepper plants in particular like to keep their leaves dry,” said Schumm. If our track record is any indicator, by the end of the growing season, the Community Kitchen Garden will yield between 5,000 and 12,000 lbs. of fresh produce. The produce goes to Kids Cafe, a program that provides meals and snacks to children in public and private schools, and Meals on Wheels, which prepares and delivers meals to home-bound senior citizens who want to retain their independence, but need some help with meals.

“When you garden you can see the results of what you’re doing immediately and it’s very rewarding,” CarMax foundation’s Wyatt said. “This has been a very rewarding experience. It’s amazing what our associates do and how much CarMax has contributed to the community where our associates live and work.” In addition to the extra help we’ve received in the garden, CarMax donates a generous matching grant based on the number of hours associates volunteer. We love CarMax’s commitment to making a positive impact in the community, and we’re thrilled we can offer an experience that is rewarding for them. Elsewhere in Richmond, CarMax associates have volunteered with Peter Paul Development Center unloading the food truck, sorting food, and helping community members with their food selections at Peter Paul’s food pantry. They’ve also helped Communities In Schools of Richmond  distribute books for students to read over the summer with a goal of surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school.

carmax associates tie pepper plants in the ckg

Left: Colton Blackburn, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden gardener, and two CarMax associates weeding. Notice the companion planting of Echinacea purpurea in the background, to attract more pollinators and other beneficial insects. Right: There are always more weeds to pull, and many hands make for lighter work.

At the Garden, CarMax associates have been blessed with dry, sunny weather. “It’s been a hot few days for the volunteers, and they’ve been working hard. Everybody is in a good mood,” Schumm told me. “They’re a great group.”

Partnering to bring you the CarMax Free Fourth of July

We love that CarMax is such a positive influence in the Richmond community,  and grateful they’ve partnered with so many Richmond nonprofits to help make our community a better place. They will continue the trend of giving back to the community by sponsoring our July 4, 2016. Thanks to CarMax, everyone gets free admission to the Garden all day (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)!  Free admission also includes entrance to the popular Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks exhibit.  We’re  glad to have the opportunity to partner with CarMax, and grateful for nearly 300 hours of volunteer service.

group of carmax associates posing in the community kitchen garden

We are excited to continue working with CarMax volunteers throughout the month of June.

Sarah is a senior at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. She's spending her summer blogging about all the beautiful flowers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden as a PR & Marketing Intern. If you see her around, be sure to ask about her adventures in Ireland last semester, where she was lucky to have the incredible opportunity to study abroad.

You May Also Like