Apr 16th, 2009

Community Kitchen Garden: Breaking Ground

by Janine Butler, Garden volunteer

You may have already heard some of the buzz about an exciting new project here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden — the plan is to plant a Community Kitchen Garden and grow 10,000 pounds of fresh produce this growing season, with all the produce from this garden being donated to Central Virginia Foodbank (and its parent organization FeedMore) to help fight the battle against hunger.

As a new volunteer at Lewis Ginter I will get to witness this project from start to finish over the next few months and will be updating this blog with all the news: what’s sprouting, what’s growing, even reporting on things that should have grown but maybe didn’t.   It’s going to be a great learning experience for me, and hopefully for the community following along with this blog.  Although I like to garden at home I have never planted a veggie garden before, except for the one cherry tomato plant I tried to grow several years ago which didn’t turn out too good – I think I got a whopping 3 whole tomatoes!  Luckily for me and the veggies this project will be run by knowledgeable experts, both Lewis Ginter staff and volunteers.

Work has already begun to prepare the site, and last Monday Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Executive Director Frank Robinson and Feedmore President/CEO Fay Lohr were onsite to break ground, along with William Darr, of CT Purcell, Inc.,  who in the true spirit of community involvement kindly volunteered the time and heavy equipment to dig up one fifth of an acre that will be used to grow the veggies.

Feedmore President/CEO Fay Lohr (left) and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Executive Director Frank Robinson help break ground on the Community Kitchen Garden

Feedmore President/CEO Fay Lohr (left) and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Executive Director Frank Robinson help break ground on the Community Kitchen Garden

There’s still more prep work needed to be done though before we can plant. The area being used has not been planted with anything in many years, and so after the ground has been dug up it will require about eighteen inches of organic matter to be tilled in so that the soil will be nice and rich and grow lovely big vegetables. And if anyone is willing to donate enough organic matter to cover a fifth of an acre, then that would be fantastic! After that, the backhoe comes back and levels off the soil in a process called ‘toothing’. This will all be completed in the next few weeks as planting is scheduled for the beginning of May. I am eager to get my hands in the soil and start planting.
Lewis Ginter has pledged 10,000 pounds of food contribution to the foodbank. It’s a worthy goal, and one that I am confident we can reach. I hope you will join me on this adventure and that perhaps it inspires you to plant your own veggie patch or get involved with a community garden in your area. In fact if you are interested in getting involved with this or any other project at Lewis Ginter, they are always looking for volunteers!  I am quickly learning that volunteers are such an integral part of  the Garden; walk around the gardens at any time and you will probably run across a few volunteers, and if not then you will definitely see some of the results of their labor.

I hope to do my part too. I am looking forward to the upcoming months. I would also love to hear your comments about the Community Kitchen Garden. Or tell me about other projects that you know of or are involved with.

Happy Gardening!

Janine Butler is a former Garden Volunteer.

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