Rice Street Community Garden Volunteers Celebrate - Brevard, NC


November 9, 2017

Courtesy Photo

The Rice Street gardeners gathered at a party recently on the patio of a local cafe to celebrate their accomplishments over the past six years growing produce to donate to the food-insecure families of Transylvania County.

Rice Street Community Garden ended its sixth year by doing something different. Instead of holding a year-end fundraising dinner, the garden thanked its volunteers at a party held last month on the patio at the rear of the Jordan Street Café.

About 25 of the garden's committed volunteers came to the celebration. While enjoying hors d'oeuvres and wine, they shared their reasons for volunteering at the garden.

Many agreed with Milbrey Raney, who said that she loves to garden, and she loves the community effort that goes into making Rice Street a success.

Anne Oliver said that she volunteers because she loves working outdoors and because she knows that all the produce goes to help the needy.

One of the long-time volunteers, Dot Holton, added, "It's nice to know that we're doing something to help people who need fresh, organic veggies."

Over the garden's six years of existence, the volunteers have grown and donated more than $19,500 worth of organic vegetables to Bread of Life and Sharing House.

Sandy Harrington, who joined recently and quickly became one of the garden's most enthusiastic volunteers, said, "I love the people, and everyone is so nice and welcoming, and I love communing with nature."

Carrie Collins is a member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church, which owns the land where the garden is located diagonally across from the Farmer's Market.

She added, "I volunteer for many reasons, one being that I love dirt therapy-getting my hands dirty-and I love being able to serve the community in some way, and to spend time with other gardeners, and also to learn a little bit about gardening."

BJ Winchester announced at the party that she and her fellow volunteer, Steve Woodsmall, will be marrying Nov. 11. The garden's first marriage!

Karen Palmer, who lives next door to the garden, said, "I can't not volunteer in the garden. It's just-one has to!"

Ernie Speckman, who is the garden's go-to person for putting the irrigation system to bed for the winter, added, "I just want to lend a hand because it's such a great effort, what with the food, the sense of community, and benefitting the greater community. It's just a win-win."

One of the most eloquent responses came from Dolores Brown: "It just calls me-the beauty of it initially drew me in. And then I met a lot of people who have a genuine interest in taking care of that little piece of God's earth and doing the right thing with it."

She continued, "And I think that I get more out of it than I put into it. I just hang out there even when I'm not scheduled to harvest, just deadheading some marigolds or taking care of some weeds here and there or picking off a bug. It's a nice place to be in communion. When I'm scheduled to harvest, I'm very focused on picking and weighing the crops, but other times I just wander over there and breathe the air and feel the sun and the warm earth."

Susan Causey, a local writer, gave a straightforward answer, "I work at home, and I need an outlet to get out and meet people."

Ruth Anderson, who gives generously to the garden in time and resources, said, "You can just go there, and you don't have any cares."

Jayne Field, a member of the garden's steering committee and organizer of the celebration, said, "I get to garden and grow things and give them away, and I get some flowers back."

She and another volunteer, Martha Mayberry, grow four flower patches in the center of the garden to attract pollinators to the vegetable crops. Occasionally, some of the volunteers ask to take a flower bouquet home.

Bill Chandler, another member of the steering committee and head of the workday crews, said, "I'll be honest and say that one of the reasons that I work in the Rice Street Community Garden is that I always wanted to be a farmer! And I've learned to be a farmer-the good, the bad, and the challenges.

"But beyond that, I'm an ardent conservationist and love seeing the land put to good use and love especially that we're helping so many people in Transylvania County and the City of Brevard who are in such desperate need of fresh vegetables."

If you want to become one of these dedicated volunteers, call 877-4070. Also, "like" the garden at http://www.facebook.com/ricestreetcommunitygarden.


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