Summer in Review

WHOA! What a heck of a summer it was!

Let me introduce you to the Team…


On the left is me, Tom Jackson, and on the right is Maria Rincon. We were the summer interns who toiled away running the CSA and making sure plants were growing instead of dying. In the middle is Emily Salle, the Farm Manager and overall show-runner. Here we are giving away cucumbers at Para Coffee (it’s still Para Coffee to me) because we had too many of them to give all to our CSA members in good conscious. Like seriously. We’re talkin’ hundreds here people.

Below is Broghan Kelly, one of our lovely volunteers. She’s presiding over one of our CSA pickups at HackCville.


Also, shout-out to Emily Hastings, one of our most reliable and hardest-working volunteers. Workdays with Emily went like this:

Emily: “So what can I help with today?”

Me: “Well, we need to completely till this row by hand.  Just dig up all the dirt and turn it over again. Here’s a rusty spoon. I’m going to be over frolicking in the sunflower field if you need me.”

Emily: “Great!”

She was awesome. (and also a CSA member!)

Here are some photos of the summer CSA experience:

CSA May week 3
Early summer harvest when there were still lots of greens
Here Jen Natyzak and Gillian Breckinridge pick up their CSA share. Jen is receiving a bag of okra, and Gillian is giggling to herself in glee
Here Jen Natyzak and Gillian Breckinridge pick up their CSA share. Jen is receiving a bag of okra, and Gillian is giggling to herself in glee.
Here is the a typical delivery bag of CSA goodies.
Here is a typical delivery bag of CSA goodies.

Some obligatory crop shots…

Here is a melon-to-be…
…a squash plant…
…a head of romaine lettuce…
…and an okra blossom.

Here is a crazy before and after sequence…

We did it! We farmed!!

Those cucumbers on the left and tomatoes on the right produced so much that we were able to harvest cratefuls every two or three days. We had so much that we got to sell off the surplus to the Boar’s Head Inn for some extra dollars!

We saw some really neat natures…

Parasitic wasp larvae on a caterpillar
A dinosaur

…and continued to work on the hoop house…

CSA Member and Morven volunteer Jen Natyzak spearheads the hoop house construction

…and even had some children from The Boys and Girls Club come out and play farmer with us!

scarecrow playingFarmer

Overall, it was a long, hard, but beautiful and rewarding summer filled with lots of sunshine, weeding, sweat, blisters, Take It Away lunches, bug bites, laughter, excitement, frustration, WNRN jams, new friends and of course delicious, organically grown vegetables. We are stoked to see what the Fall brings!

Tom and the MKG Summer Squad

5th Annual Gazpacho in the Garden

It’s here, folks! The biggest and best celebration of student-run, sustainable farming in the Charlottesville area. Whether you’re a student, fellow farmer, UVa faculty member or staff, CSA shareholder, or member of the greater Charlottesville community, we welcome you to come enjoy the bounty of late summer harvests with us in our bucolic garden setting:

Thursday, August 27th from 5:30 to 8:00pm

Gazpacho 2k14 FOOD Gazpacho 2k14 WHITNEY n FOOD n GARDEN Gazpacho 2k14 PEOPLE

what you can expect:

– loads of Morven-fresh gazpacho (naturally)
– a gourmet spread of local food from Harvest Moon, Boar’s Head, Red Hub Food Co., and more
– a raffle featuring a free Boar’s Head Inn meal, an MKG produce basket, and MKG honey as prizes
– Ragged Mountain String Band providing a musical backdrop
– tours of the garden
– information on our current projects, including our CSA and upcoming Orchard Project
– a chance to meet the people who make Morven a reality

$10 suggested donation or whatever you can pay (and bring cash for the raffle!)

In true picnic style, we invite you to bring your own picnic blanket, lawn chairs, and a spoon for the gazpacho!

Please RSVP on our Facebook event page in order for us to know how much food to prepare.

Looking forward to seeing you out on the farm!

– Allie
& the MKG Student Staff

Hoop House is SO REAL and ALMOST DONE

Wow, how many times does it feel like we’ve said that? But FOR REAL this time — we’re in the final stretch.

As with many large-scale projects, the hoop house has taken some unexpected turns and generally been a slow work in progress. But nonetheless it is becoming a reality just in time for the months to turn colder, when our delicate plants need that added protection and heat to combat the frostier mornings in October through December.

IMG_0215So with that said, we need YOUR help. On Saturday (this one, August 15th) we will be building the end walls in two shifts: Emily ( will be leading the morning one (think around 9) and I (Audrey – will be leading an afternoon one (think noon). Contact one of us if you interested, because we are definitely interested in having you!

– Audrey

Summer CSA Sign Ups are Open!

If you’re new here, Morven Kitchen Garden is a one-acre farm run entirely by students. We sell organic produce shares so that we can keep doing what we love while you reap the benefit of the harvest. Consider joining our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program!

What can you expect from your share? Lots of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and other summer veggies all grown by UVA students.


Sign ups are first come, first serve with preference given to returning members.
Pick up is on Tuesdays from 12pm to 2pm at HackCville on Elliewood Ave (the Corner) with delivery available for a fee of $5.

Trouble signing up on the above link? Email with your name, phone number, and the shares you are interested in (any combination of: Entire Season / June / July / August – full or half shares).

Feel free to contact us with any questions and keep up to date on activity at Morven by liking us on Facebook and following us on Instagram!

Hoop House Progress

The hoop house is coming along wonderfully! Many, many thanks to Tom Jackson, Ryan Brennan, Audrey Baker and the rest of the volunteers who have been working tirelessly this week to make the hoop house a reality for our lil acre of land we call MKG.

Progress Pics:

Laying out the markings for the metal beam placements
Laying out the markings for the metal beam placements
Marking the overhead beams
Marking the overhead beams


Ringleaders aka Ryan and Tom
Ringleaders aka Ryan and Tom
Audrey doing work
Audrey doing work


Panoramas of Morven never get old
Panoramas of Morven never get old
End of the day on Saturday!
End of the day on Saturday!

There’s still more to go on the hoop house, so come on out if you’d like to wield some power tools or just get outside. We have regularly scheduled workdays on Tuesday mornings, Friday afternoons, Saturday afternoons, and many other days often have workdays that pop up as needed. Sign up for our listserv to receive notices for times of the workdays! [ click Subscribe on the left column] Coming out to the garden is low commitment, high reward. We’d love to see you!

Hoop it up: Hoop house build day April 11th!

Guys. Get Excited! This Saturday April 11th MKG is hosting a workday in which the long awaited hoop house will be built! Planning for this hoop house began in the Fall semester, with the leadership team including Audrey Baker, Vanessa Owens, and Riley Hazard. They worked really hard to get this project going, which has been in the works for a long time. It is now possible because the project was selected to receive a GIFT grant, which covers all the funds for the project. Shout out to the leadership for getting this going!

What is a hoop house anyway?  It is essentially a greenhouse constructed out of plastic. There are many advantages to hoop houses, such as isolation from pests and the creation of a warmer environment which allows for planting year round. Planting for the MKG hoop house will begin this summer with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and more! We’re really excited to get this project going and we need your help!

Example hoop house
Example of a hoop house.

The event is divided into two work shifts, one from 9: 30 am- 12:30 pm and the other from 12:30 pm- 4:00 pm. There will be FREE LUNCH from Take it Away, Feast, Boars Head, and other places from 12-1 pm!! So come out to Morven for a fun build day that consists of food, friendship, and hooping it up!


Inside of potential hoop house
Example of a functioning hoop house.
Plot where hoop house will be built.

Spring Planting

The garden is back! This Saturday a group of wonderful volunteers planted peas, beets, radishes, arugula, lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage! In the beginning of the month APO, a co-ed service fraternity at UVa, seeded trays for the planting. Shout out to APO for helping out!

Yesterday there a lot of maintenance work done before planting; which included weeding, tilling the dirt (a round of applause for Nathan and Tom, the tamers of the wild tiller), adding compost to the rows, and preparing the trays for planting. I hope the volunteers had a good time spending the day outdoors getting the garden ready for the spring!

Here are some wonderful pictures of the garden. Try to get out there to help out this semester to enjoy the outdoors and get excited for the Spring CSA!

APO Volunteers seeding the trays
Volunteers removing the hoops because spring is here!
Volunteers tilling and adding compost. You can start to see the rows where things are being planted.
Yay planting!
Thank you volunteers!
Serious volunteers seriously working

A reflection on the progress made in 2014. Post by Emily Salle.

Volunteers prepare for fall plantings

With a committed group of student leaders, established collaborations, and dedicated workday volunteers in tow, we are bursting into 2015 full of energy. However, it’s not too late to review the incredible success of 2014. I would like to specifically honor the hard work of Sam Taggart, Cassidy Pillow, Sarah Osterman, Nathan Rose, Allie Arnold, Audrey Baker, Riley Hazard, and Vanessa Owens. Additionally, I’d like to thank the Morven Programs team and all the employees at the Morven Estate, specifically Andy Wylan and his crew.

Since late last spring tremendous progress has been made. We had incredible success with Gazpacho in the Garden, with an estimated 75 attendees and $600 raised in donations.  This past fall we united engineering, biology, commerce, architecture, writing, and nursing students as part of the MKG leadership team. We’ve had over 35 student workdays, 5 months of CSA production, and vegetable sales yielding $3,500.

One of the summer CSA harvests
One of the summer CSA harvests

Those successes took an immense amount of hard work. Spring production was dampened by late snowfall, and the summer swelled with the obstacles of growing for a CSA. The various wild predators, logistical difficulties, and usual climate challenges were frustrating and tiring.

That being said, the two summer interns, Cassidy Pillow and Sarah Osterman, excelled in their roles managing the farm, each filling a unique niche in the array of farm tasks. Through the challenges, the summer CSA was proclaimed a success by all of our members. Shares overflowed with squash, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Flower bouquets full of goldenrod, wild daisies, zinnias, and purple basil were particularly popular in the fall CSA.

Because of our success in the summer, for the first time in MKG history we decided to extend the CSA into the fall. The fall CSA provided a new set of unique challenges considering all our academic obligations, and hinged directly on our ability to incorporate new and dedicated volunteers in more skilled roles. We farmed for the CSA through November, with huge harvests of flowers, kale, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and more.

Another innovation of the fall included the structured leadership team built during the semester. The student leaders now control all aspects of the farm ranging from the CSA management to the business plan to the planning of an orchard. Six specialized groups gave over 15 dedicated students the chance to take ownership in the management of the farm. This new structure is proving to be the biggest success of 2014.

Morven has always been an amazing venue for student leadership, and now, instead of that leadership potential being concentrated on one individual manager, it directly involves everyone who has stepped up to fill the available roles. It’s also the key in allowing us to develop the projects that will give us the chance to realize our goal of being a fully operating market farm at UVa.

A group of students represents the Morven Kitchen Garden at the Virginia Film Festival's reception of the documentary Fed Up.
A group of students represents the Morven Kitchen Garden at the Virginia Film Festival’s reception of the documentary Fed Up.

These projects include the establishment of a hoop house and the creation of an orchard.  The student teams working on these projects in the fall are now far into planning, and the hoop house team has been awarded a $3,000 GIFT grant to begin construction this spring.  Additional projects slated for the coming months include the construction of a garden shed, the further expansion of the CSA, and the design and ordering of MKG t-shirts, bags, and hats.

Manager Emily Salle leads a summer garden tour during a retreat organized by the UVa Office of Sustainability.

In addition to increased leadership involvement this semester, we have also seen workday volunteer numbers increase as more students get involved and as more UVa and Charlottesville organizations choose to partner with us for volunteer days.

This semester we have partnered with Green Dining, the UVa Outdoors Club, and Woodard Properties.  Additionally, we sold produce to the Boar’s Head Inn and a UVa CSA group called Greens to Grounds during the summer and fall. More and more frequently the Morven Kitchen Garden is connecting students across organizations, departments, and to the surrounding community.  We look forward to continuing to grow partnerships old and new in 2015.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Morven Kitchen Garden!!


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Yes, the winter is coming. The finals are going.  But our garden is still flourishing!


1This week, we have the rows covered up to shield our greens from frost and night-time chills.


Look at the happy faces of the greens under the warmth of the cover!

Wish you all happy holidays and see you next year!

Collaboration with Green Dining and Greens to Grounds

This semester Morven Kitchen Garden has been fortunate enough to be collaborate with other groups across grounds that are also promoting sustainable food practices. These include Green Dining and Greens to Grounds.

Every other Wednesday this fall, members of Green Dining came out to volunteer at the farm. Green Dining is a student lead group that identifies and advocates operational change as it relates food systems, waste management and resource conservation at the university. The group is lead by Chris Stevens, the dining sustainability manager for Aramark, UVa’s food provider. 

Greens to Grounds was established just last spring (2014). They offer CSA shares developed specifically for students and sourced from local farms. They support sustainable food production practices and educate UVa on the importance of environmentally conscious food purchases. They work with community gardens, and local farms like us to provide affordable produce to students on grounds. We often supply our beautiful flowers to Greens to Grounds! This is the first year we have collaborated with Greens to Grounds, but we hope to expand our partnership during the next growing season and beyond.

Both these groups have done tremendous efforts at educating students on the importance of local food during their initial encounters with food autonomy in order to affect their life-long purchasing decisions. It’s great that we can work together with them as we all have similar goals. 

Here’s to more collaboration in the future to change the relationship UVa has with the food that we eat!

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