By Polly Keary, Editor
Photos by Polly Keary
A gorgeous growing season is a mixed blessing at the garden that supports the Sky Valley Food Bank.
It means lots and lots of veggies, and a second growing season for some of the earlier veggies, but it also means lots of labor, and so the volunteers who coordinate the garden are looking for a little help.
The Julia V. Morris Memorial Garden was created in memory of the woman who founded the food bank, and in the years since it was created, it’s gone through some ups and downs.
There were years in which there was little in the way of organized leadership and the garden languished.
But in recent years, the garden has flourished.
Master Gardener Marilee Schneider has worked hard with a team of volunteers to revitalize the garden, and it has never looked more lush than it does this year.
Huge sprawling squash plants contain bright yellow summer squash or the hard green promises of winter squash. Bean plants are head-high and form cool, green hallways between their rows. Red cabbages are reaching basketball-sized proportions. And peppers are blossoming in planter boxes near lacy rows of carrots.
And those are just the plants that haven’t yet been harvested.
“At the last official count we had given about 600 pounds to the food bank, and it’s probably more than that now,” said Schneider. “That was the first wave.”
Already the volunteers have harvested green cabbage, lettuce, radishes, kale, spinach, summer squash, carrots, scallions and broccoli.
“Now we’re waiting for beans and peppers and carrots, and second batches of cabbage and peas,” Schneider said.
Last year the garden put out 3,100 pounds of food for the food bank, and this year is on track to beat it; the gardeners have set a goal of 5,000 pounds.
But growing food isn’t the only purpose of the garden.
The other mission of the volunteers is to spread the love of gardening in the community.
So organizers are happy to teach volunteers about gardening and how to grow beautiful fresh vegetables and herbs at home.
It doesn’t require expertise or a green thumb to volunteer at the garden.
Right now, it really only requires the ability to pour water and pull up weeds.
Because the garden is growing so strongly, the volunteers have divided the 1/4-acre plot into four quarters. Each quarter has a team attending it.
“Mostly it’s just watering and weeding,” said Schneider.
Soon it will be time to plant a few more summer crops, and then there will be harvesting to do as the cucumbers, beans, peppers and red cabbage get ripe.
All through August and September, teams will harvest and clean the garden up, beautifying it, covering it with burlap and readying it for winter.
But to volunteer at the garden doesn’t mean to commit to all that. Volunteers are welcome to show up for a day or two, or even a few hours.
“I have a couple people who only come a couple times a year and do a bang-up job, and then I don’t see them again for a year,” Schneider said.
To volunteer at the garden, call Marilee Schneider at (425) 754-2445.