We started digging again at ASD’s Faith in Action community garden in Abingdon Virginia, wiping the sweat off our brows. Elaine, Jenn, and I have all been learning how to grow vegetables and herbs and even cut flowers. For never having a hands-on, garden-type job, the four of us have learned to turn this one into a unique workspace that we call our second home.
It’s more eco-friendly… better for the plants, the soil, and the earth as a whole.
We’re attempting a no-till garden this season. It’s more eco-friendly… better for the plants, the soil, and the earth as a whole. Plus, we want to demonstrate to people that gardens can be done this way. We started out by weeding most of the garden using scuffle hoes (AKA shuffle hoes) and used the broadfork to till it by hand. Later on at one of the SWVA Farm Schools, we learned we were doing broadforking wrong. A big thing about this that I learned is to never let the endpoints leave the dirt. Now it’s one of my favorite tools in the garden. A workout for sure, but such an amazing tool!
As we were weeding we soon found out we had an abundance of last season’s herbs, such as chamomile, marshmallow, lavender, California poppies, lemon balm, motherwort, and yarrow growing in our community garden. We decided to harvest these and sell them to the community, which turned out to be a major success. We then joined up with the Agroforestry team to help a farmer in Duffield plant calendula, which will be harvested in the fall to be processed and sold through ASD’s Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub.
I’ve learned that Groundwork is more than a job. It’s an adventure – breaking shovels by digging up asparagus one day and going to get complimentary tattoos after work the next.
In the first week of May, we all went to Duffield, VA, as an adventure to dry stinging nettle and elderberry for a local farmer who sold his herbs to the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub. We made the contact of a local farmer, David Wallace, who owns a hemp farm in Cleveland, Virginia. As a group, we learned more about how farmers handle their herbs, and ultimately gained an overall knowledge on the process.
In April, we seeded flowers at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC), using their greenhouse and equipment to craft no-plastic soil blocks. That’s how we got started on our season of flowers.
We planted all our flowers and crops after the last frost date was set. These crops included green beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, tomatillos, and kale. Volunteers helped us plant eggplant, peppers, and turmeric in the hoophouse. We had a garden party to celebrate all the plants being in the ground. I was the grill master for hot dogs, burgers, and even vegan burgers and sausages. Meanwhile, there were coworkers and family members playing live bluegrass music. It was a perfect way to celebrate the hard work we achieved.
I’ve learned that Groundwork is more than a job. It’s an adventure – breaking shovels by digging up asparagus one day and going to get complimentary tattoos after work the next. We all got different flower tattoos to grow together in friendship and intensify our connection.
I can’t wait to heal within the garden especially with our flowers and vegetables growing.
By Meghan Tignor
ASD Groundwork’s Community Garden Cultivator