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!

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APO Volunteers seeding the trays

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Volunteers removing the hoops because spring is here!

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Volunteers tilling and adding compost. You can start to see the rows where things are being planted.

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Yay planting!

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Thank you volunteers!

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Serious volunteers seriously working

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

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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

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

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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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Fall CSA: In Review of a Great Season

The fall CSA has been a huge success this season! There has been an endless amount of delicious cherry tomatoes, the most beautifully fat carrots I’ve ever harvested, a million pounds of sweet potatoes (and there’s a million more to pick this Friday!), and of course the stunning hand picked flowers that make any day happier
! It couldn’t have been any better.

Shout out to all out wonderful volunteers who dedicated their Sunday mornings to harvest for the CSA. The garden enjoys you as much as you enjoy it :). Also, thank you to our subscribers!

Check out these pictures of the lovely stuff we’ve harvested and our great volunteers. And get excited for the November share!

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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.