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Fall volunteer days: Back to school = back to the farm

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Weekly volunteer days are back up and running once again. This past weekend we had what might have been a record-high turnout (17 people!). The garden benefits so much from these workdays. We were able to get fall crops in the ground, do some maintenance on already planted crops, weed extensively, harvest everything we needed for the CSA, and still have time to enjoy some fresh cantaloupe!

If you’re interested in receiving emails about upcoming volunteer days and how to get involved, email morvenkitchengarden@virginia.edu.

Thank you! 4th Annual Gazpacho in the Garden was a huge success!

Thank you so much to all who attended our event on Friday. This event is our most important of the year, and we couldn’t have put on such a good time without some critical supporters.

We were gracious to receive food donations from The Boar’s Head Inn, UVA Dining, Great Harvest Bread CompanyPasture Restaurant, and Whole Foods. A special thanks is reserved also for The Local Food Hub for donating locally sourced produce for all of our gazpacho ingredients. 

I also want to take the time to recognize the dedicated students who lent a hand in realizing this event: our summer interns Cassidy Pillow and Sarah Osterman; our generous volunteers for this event, particularly our gazpacho cooks: Nathan Rose, Stephanie Kane, and Katie Lang; and additional student volunteers Tyler Lystash, Arisa Koyama, Anthony Gloss, and Rob Harland. I would also like to thank Morven Farm staff — including Whitney Farmer, Rebecca Deeds, Neal Halvorson Taylor, Stewart Gamage, Elton Oliver, Andy Wyland, and RE Phillips — for their crucial ongoing support. 

We raised $600 at the event, enough to kick start our projects for the fall, supply us with seeds for the spring, and invest in some much needed tool upgrades! Thank you to all who donated. If you would still like to make a donation, send a check made out to Morven Kitchen Garden to Morven Farms, c/o Whitney Farmer, 791 Morven Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22902. Community support makes what we do possible! We appreciate much needed donations throughout the year. 

 

 

 

Put it on your calendars! August 29th: GAZPACHO IN THE GARDEN

Join us for the 4th annual Gazpacho in the Garden event on Friday, August 29th from 5:30 to 8:00pm. Whether a student, a fellow farmer, a CSA shareholder, or a member of the greater Charlottesville community, we welcome you to come explore the garden, learn about our on-going projects, figure out how you can get involved, and share a fun, seasonal dinner with MKG staff and friends.

In order to understand how much food to prepare, we encourage you to RSVP!

Dinner is provided for a suggested donation of $5 to $10. Please bring your own picnic blankets, lawn chairs, and beverages.

Also, check out the event on Facebook.

Click here for directions from Charlottesville.  Click here for directions from Scottsville. Click here for directions from Richmond.

Feel free to email us with any questions.

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An exemplary July CSA harvest

We’ve had a successful crop of yellow squash, carrots, and pickling cucumbers this July. Additional crops harvested include green beans, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Eggs are provided at an extra cost by Morven’s gatekeeper who keeps chickens on his farm down the road. The average July share had a market value of $12.50.

 

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Mid-Summer Vista

Meet Sarah and Cassidy: our garden interns featured as sustainability stars by the University’s Office of Sustainability

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Last Wednesday, Sarah Davidson from the Office of Sustainability came out to the CSA drop-off after we returned with the morning’s harvest to take these photos and learn more about our two interns Sarah and Cassidy. Here is a link to her article:

http://www.virginia.edu/sustainability/sustainability-stars-cassidy-pillow-and-sarah-osterman/

Fast-forward to Summer 2014

You might note the lack of activity on the webpage since early last fall, but be careful not to confuse that with a lack of activity in the Kitchen Garden. The several months that have passed between then and now were full of grant writing and planning for a spring that has now come and gone. Our manager for the 2013-2014 school year, Sam Taggart, started passing the management baton over to Emily Salle in mid-February as she prepared to graduate and leave for the Allegheny Mountain School.

Meanwhile, the garden spent much of the late winter blanketed with snow. The striking winter was beautiful, but proved difficult to work with in terms of getting spring plants in the ground. We always hope to extend our season as far into the semester as possible to allow for more student involvement in the growing process. However, with frosts continuing into mid-April, we found that to be quite a challenge. Luckily, by the time May rolled around, our summer crops like tomatoes and eggplant were able to find their spot at the farm.

Another important novelty in the MKG landscape was established this past spring: the Morven Kitchen Garden Apiary. With the help of Paul Legrand, the beekeeper for Monticello, we were able to install eight hives to aid in strengthening the corridor of Russian variety bees in the area (including hives at Tufton, Ashlawn, and Monticello) and for assistance in crop pollination. Hopefully, the bees will be a key resource for student research and provide an opportunity for anyone interested in beekeeping to learn the different steps of establishing, caring for, and harvesting from an apiary.

After the spring semester ended, the work in the Kitchen Garden intensified. Students from the Morven Summer Institute used the garden to carry out experiments for the AgroEcology class, and our summer interns Sarah Osterman and Cassidy Pillow started taking charge as the June and Summer CSA seasons approached. 

Now, the CSA is in full swing, as well as the garden’s productivity. After a bit of worry about how to handle slow growing crops (an interesting point of investigation that links to soil fertility and pest management challenges) when a list of CSA members are expecting weekly deliveries, we finally feel comfortable with the yield of cucumbers, beans, and squash arriving daily. And the slicing tomatoes and watermelon plants are hinting at treasures yet to come.