The Transylvania Times -

By Norah Davis
For The Transylvania Times 

Rice Street Garden Reports A 'Banner Year' – Brevard NC

 

Taking a break in early August, a few of the garden's volunteers posed behind a patch of zinnias. This photo is the opening shot on the garden's new Facebook page. (Courtesy photos)

The Rice Street Community Garden's third season was a banner year in many ways, some surprising.

The garden grew in physical size, harvest, crop varieties, volunteers, educational events, fundraising venues, and outreach to the community and gardening world.

The future promises even more expansion, all with an eye on growing the garden's mission of sharing its abundance in Brevard.

Located downtown next to St. Philip's Episcopal Church, the garden is tended by volunteers, who donate all of the produce to Bread of Life and Sharing House.

Thanks to a 2014 grant from Lake Toxaway Charities, the garden grew in physical size by adding four new raised beds. Each planting bed is 16 inches high to make it easy for older volunteers to plant and harvest.

The garden's steering committee projected that the new beds would increase the harvest by nearly 20 percent. In fact, the 2014 crop exceeded that projection with a record harvest of 831 pounds.

Overall, during its three years, Rice Street Community Garden has donated fresh, organically grown produce worth approximately $7,780.

This year, to the vegetables grown in previous years, the volunteers added cauliflower, lima beans, and sweet potatoes, which were especially productive.

From only nine tubers, the garden produced 61 pounds of nutritious sweet potatoes.

Bill Chandler, the garden manager, said, "Opening up the ground and finding that each tuber had produced about a grocery bag's worth of potatoes was like a treasure hunt. One potato actually weighed three pounds all by itself. It was as big as a football."

The number of volunteers also grew. In 2014, the garden welcomed new and very committed volunteers, both novices and experienced gardeners, of all ages: Mike Conley, Nancy and Bill Harger, Deborah Hart-Serafini, Joan and Karl Munn, Anne Oliver, Saretta Prescott, and BJ Winchester, among others.

One of the volunteers' goals is to share their growing knowledge (pun intended) with the community. In 2014, the garden held three educational events open to the public.

On March 15, Dr. John Clark, of CrossFit Brevard, demonstrated how to use shovels and other garden tools without wrecking your back.

On Sept. 27, Nina Shippen, owner of Hidden Road Landscape Design, showed how to remove invasive plants like English Ivy without using pesticides.

On Nov. 1, permaculturist Deborah Hart-Serafini demonstrated how to plant hardneck and softneck garlic. Michael Collins of Bread of Life told a garden volunteer, "We can use all the garlic we can get."

For the garden's operating expenses, the garden's executive director, Jayne Field, continued to spearhead annual fundraising dinners at St. Philip's Episcopal Church.

Held this year on May 16, the fundraiser helped pay for soil amendments, seeds, and seedlings, as well as the garden's water bill and lawn-mowing expenses.

This year, Field added a flower sale. She and Martha Mayberry arranged vases of zinnias and herbs picked from the garden.

Then Jane Chandler and Milbrey Raney helped sell the charming arrangements on Saturday, Aug. 2, to customers returning to their cars from the Farmers Market, which is diagonally across from the garden.

So, the flowers, in addition to attracting beneficial insects and adding color, did their part in supporting the garden's growing-to-give mission.

Outreach to the community was another way the garden grew. On Oct. 6, the garden welcomed a class of Brevard College students and their biology professor, Dr. Jennifer Frick-Ruppert.

The students' particular interests were the compost operation, the permanent blueberry culture, and the beehive.

Julie Heinitsch erected a trellis to support an early spring crop of green peas.

They listened attentively to Bill Chandler telling the story of the garden and its connections with neighbors on Rice Street and volunteers from other churches and the community at large.

The final story of the year was the garden's new outreach to the gardening world.

Thanks to social media expert Deborah Hart-Serafini, the garden now has its own lively and informative Facebook page (Facebook.com/ricestreetcommunitygarden).

She is also developing a web site, and its debut will be announced on the Facebook page.

Along the same vein, the garden recently launched its own web page on the St. Philip's web site (stphilipsbrevard.org/ricestreetgarden.html).

The site is complete with photos and stories of how the garden came to be. To participate in this community project, visit these sites or call Norah Davis, the communications director, at 877-4070.

 
 

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