The Transylvania Times -

By Norah Davis
for The Transylvania Times 

Rice Street Garden Celebrating Its Fifth Year – brevard NC


November 28, 2016

Partway through the setup for the garden's Celebrate the Harvest party, some of the core crew posed at the central table. Carrie Collins, Jane Chandler, Jayne Field, Dolores Brown, Bill Chandler, Martha Mayberry, and Milbrey Raney. (Courtesy photo by Norah Davis)

Sixty supporters of the Rice Street Community Garden attended a "Celebrate the Harvest" party the evening of Nov. 4 and donated ample funds for the garden's operating expenses for the next growing season.

Held at St. Philip's Episcopal Church, the party featured hors d'oeuvres, special desserts, a raffle, and a talk by the garden's manager, Bill Chandler, summarizing the year's achievements.

Rice Street Community Garden, located in downtown Brevard on land owned by St. Philip's diagonally across from the Farmers' Market, is staffed entirely by volunteers from Transylvania County.

The volunteers donate the garden's fresh organic produce to Bread of Life and Sharing House. In the five years since ground was first broken, the garden has produced more than $16,846 worth of produce for the soup kitchen and food bank.

"Despite the drought this year, the garden grew 1,037 pounds of food," Chandler said. "The harvests included 143 pounds of sweet potatoes. Picking them is like digging for gold. You don't know what you're going to find when you get down into the dirt."

Chandler's family helped with the sweet potato harvest: his wife, Jane, and their daughter, Kate, and son-in-law, Jay.

When Chandler mentioned one of this year's other crop stars-101 pounds of okra grown on plants that were more than 10 feet tall-someone in the audience called out, "You mean the okra trees."

Next, Chandler talked about a few of this year's special volunteers, including John Rinehart and Maryann Mickewicz, who oversaw the installation of the garden's new drip irrigation system.

"It saved our garden, kept it alive," said Chandler, "through this year's drought."

The garden has a core group of 27 "regulars," but others on the garden's list of 111 volunteers contribute as they can.

For example, two of the many volunteers who are not members of St. Philip's-Sandy Harrington and Eric Osterc-donated a pair of brand new picnic tables.

The tables came into their own on the last workday of the 2016 season when a group of 17 volunteers concluded the morning's work with a pizza party.

"We plan to have two or three more pizza parties next year," said Chandler.

Another highlight of the year was the garden's new T-shirt, with its distinctive logo featuring a trowel with a carrot top. Chandler thanked his wife, Jane, and Mary Lee Fennessy and Martha Mayberry for overseeing the design and production of the T-shirts.

As he held up one of the shirts for sale, someone from the audience called, "And they make great holiday gifts."

Continuing the appreciation of special volunteers this season, Chandler mentioned water managers Nancy Harger and Karen Palmer, who made sure that the drip irrigation system was turned on and off twice a week during the drought.

"And I call Karen our 'sylvan slayer' of invasive plants in the woods behind the garden," Chandler said. "She's been at it for more than a decade. Thanks to her work, a St. Philip's group is going to put in a contemplative path in the woods later this year."

Ruth Anderson and Carrie Collins draw raffle tickets to find the winners.

Others who received appreciation included Tina Holland for helping get young persons involved in the garden; Deborah Hart-Serafini and Ron Strilaeff for "bringing the garden into the digital age with our Facebook page"; and Ernie Speckman for draining the irrigation system for the winter, spending four hours blowing out the water by mouth and air compressor.

Finally, Chandler thanked Jayne Field for planning and organizing the harvest party, directing the food preparations and decorations by her core crew: Ruth Anderson and Peggy Bridges (for soliciting the raffle prizes), Dolores Brown, Jane Chandler, Carrie Collins, Norah Davis, Martha Mayberry, Karen Palmer and Milbrey Raney, plus those who stepped forward to help with specific tasks: Bill Harger, the Rev. Bill Livingston, Richard Mayberry, Bev Raney and Deb Hart-Serafini, who attended to videotape the party for the garden's Facebook page (see http://www.face

"And if you liked the lettuce wraps, I made those," Chandler said to cheers of appreciation.

To find out how to help the garden, call 877-4070.


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