The second year of the Black Mountain Home Garden Project was a big improvement over the first year for several reasons: more produce harvested and donated, more volunteers and volunteer hours, more funding and more donations, and thanks to our Creator, cooler weather and more rain. The Garden Project yielded 1000 pounds of organic corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, eggplant, peas, watermelon, cabbage, and pumpkins, plus 2000 pounds of sweet potatoes. Produce not used by the Home was donated to MANNA, ABCCM, Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries, and other programs in need of fresh produce.
Since March, nearly 50 volunteers put in 500 hours planting seeds and plant starts, spreading mulch, weeding, watering and harvesting. Volunteers came from eight area churches including FPC-Asheville, Montreat EPC, FPC-Swannanoa, Black Mountain
Presbyterian, Warren Wilson Presbyterian, First Baptist-Black Mountain, Biltmore Baptist East, and students from Warren Wilson College came to help as well.
Operating a one-acre volunteer garden requires many materials in addition to many hours of labor. Cash came from a $300 grant from Environmental Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and $100 from John and Jansen McCreary. Sow-True Seeds got the garden off to an early start by donating a large box of countless varieties of seeds and Sister’s Florabunda again donated many different plant starts. John and Carol Vruwink donated and delivered a load of horse manure and volunteers donated needed materials such as netting, buckets, shelving, and a scale. The shed near the garden, built by an Eagle Scout, was a wonderful addition for storing tools, seeds, organic pest controls, signs, and paper work.
The biggest reason the garden was such a success this year may have been the increased experience of the leaders and support from the Home. Three volunteer leaders, two veterans and one rookie, did the planning, recruited and directed volunteers, solicited donations, and managed the logistics of farming a one-acre plot in the lower fields at the Home. Since the weeds were such a huge problem the previous year, the leaders instituted a method to control weed growth by laying cardboard in the aisles and covering with wood chips, thus reducing the workload and increasing the yield. A scarecrow contest was also introduced to save the corn from the voracious birds.
The Garden Project was started in 2010 as a faith-based volunteer effort to increase gardening capacity at the Home and the first garden was planted in 2011. The goals of the Project are to grow fresh vegetables for use at the Home, to serve neighbors in need through donations to local organizations that provide food, and to increase volunteers’ gardening skills.
To learn more, use the category “SPROUT!” on the journal or contact Jane Laping.