All News & Blogs
North Stafford's Porter Library christens new community garden
Children at Saturday's event lend a hand by introducing compost worms to the garden to keep the soil loose.
KATIE THISDELL/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 4/30/2012
Destiny Rutherford, 9, flipped through trays of free vegetable seeds, quickly finding one of her favorites: spinach.
She likes eating most vegetables, especially when topped with ranch dressing.
Recently, her family started a few plants in pots.
"One of them is growing," Destiny said.
Now they have plans to expand those small plants into their first vegetable garden.
"This is so we can have some fresh stuff to eat and avoid preservatives," said Destiny's mother, Arnetha Proudie of Stafford, "and so she knows where her food comes from."
Making that connection between ground and plate is an increasing trend, and the focus of the eight-month "Cultivating Community" series put on by the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
At the Porter branch in North Stafford on Saturday, library staff, Master Gardeners, teen volunteers and area farmers offered gardening resources to help families grow vegetables in their backyards.
Children also helped the library christen its new community garden with a bucket of compost worms, which will help keep the soil loose and healthy.
Branch manager Martha Hutzel revealed the squirmy red worms, to mixed reactions.
Five-year-old Vanessa Fadden scrunched up her face and said she was scared of worms.
But, she added: "I touched a worm before."
Scooping the worms into cups, kids dumped them onto mulch in the library's garden, which measures 15 feet by 10 feet.
As the growing season
"We hope over the course of the summer, with our children's programs, children can go out to the garden and see how the tomatoes grow and pick them," Hutzel said. "They'll know they grew here."
The library's many volunteers will maintain the garden, keeping it weed free and watered. Later this summer, they'll pick the ripe tomatoes, squash and peppers, and donate the produce to SERVE, a Stafford emergency assistance program.
"It's just another blessing," said Marilyn Stevens, director of SERVE. "The way the community works, is if they know we need help, they're able to step in."
The garden's creation was also a community project, with donations of labor and materials from the Stafford and North Stafford Rotary clubs, Master Gardeners, a local garden center, an Eagle Scout's project and Air Force volunteers.
The backbone of the library's series on local and sustainable food is Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." In it, she chronicles her family's year of living off their own farm.
Copies of the book have been in circulation about 600 times already this year.
Inside the library, Clark, who retired from teaching to work on her family's farm, sang about the water cycle and played a matching game featuring young plants and the vegetables they produce.
"I feel that they're usually a couple generations away from the farm now, and we feel they need to know where their food comes from," Clark said.
Nicole Gioia agreed. She and her daughters Jessica, 4, and Michelle, 2, had started a family garden the night before.
"We have our soil all laid out and just need the plants," Gioia said. "We're going to get grubby again tonight."
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975