When Kathy Curry dropped off some greens from Kingston Farm and Garden Co-op last week, we took the opportunity to find out more about what’s going on at their Giving Garden. She was having quite a day, with a tractor that wouldn’t start, among other mishaps.
Along with being one of the garden and Co-op’s principals, Curry is the property owner donating use of her land for this charitable function. The balance of the land has been a vineyard.
The vineyard is now in the process of transforming out of wine production into specialty grape products such as vinegars.
Gardeners tend to be patient people, and Curry was taking the morning’s challenges in stride, saying at her age she needs good stories. And, as we all know, mishaps make for good stories.
When asked how the over-wintering had gone in the high tunnel, Curry said the relative warmth and enclosure had attracted garden pests. They’ve solved this by creating a tunnel within a tunnel, the inner one so far not accessible to pests.
This year, the garden plans to produce more leafy-green type vegetables. The areas under cultivation “will be the original mixed veggie patch (roughly 35 feet by 150 feet), and of course the high tunnel (30 by 70),” Curry said.
To better utilize volunteer hours, the garden will schedule weekday workdays as well as weekends. The garden has a really faithful core group of about 10 people at any given time, give or take a few, but they need more just to cover the basics of the operation.
“We are letting the large bulk crop area (90 by 30) lie fallow this year, using cover crops, and as much compost as we can get, to build up the soil. If we had more volunteers, we would actually go ahead and replant it, but the last two years it’s been impossible to keep it properly tended,” Curry said.
It’s a shame such a giving organization should struggle to obtain volunteers, but like a lot of their nonprofit friends, they do. The volunteer issue is such a challenge for them that they are now considering trying to interest folks who would be willing to produce half their output for donation, and half for their own consumption, somewhat like a P-patch arrangement.
The volunteers they have are absolutely terrific. Curry described Laura Lyon as the garden coordinator, and Kinley Deller as the expert cat herder (he is also the Co-op president).
Recently, volunteers wrangled the tiller onto a pallet so the tractor could lift it to go to the repair ship (the tiller tires had come off the wheels). Volunteers also built rain-gutter planters for lettuce and strawberries; planters are easier on the body, and copper tape around the legs prevents slugs and snails.
In the high tunnel, they will try cantaloupes and fast-growing Asian melons and acorn squash grown in hills. Added to this, they will also try snap peas, pole beans, garlic, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, head lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, basil, asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberries. This year, they will not plant potatoes, garlic, or tomatoes.
The Giving Garden will put out the call for these specific seeds or seedlings among their network, and will order the remainder. By the end of March, volunteers will be on to weed control, mowing, moving vertical supports, tilling beds, and doing a tool inventory.
They’ve moved their Saturday work parties up one hour, to 9-11 a.m. The weekday schedule is not firm yet, but it likely will be from 4-6 p.m. or 6-8 p.m.
Some of their current needs are a large dry erase board with pens and erasers; Sluggo; dolomite/lime; NutraRich organic fertilizer pellets 4-3-2; toilet paper tubes (for seedlings); small hand tools such as cultivators and hand shovels; string; and stakes. If you have any of these items to donate, please contact the garden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening to Curry, we’re reminded that producing food is hard work, filled with the trial and error of soil amendment, crop location, and so many other factors. ShareNet and the people we serve are really fortunate to have this relationship with this caring group of dedicated locals.
— Contact Mark Ince at sharenetdirector@century tel.net.