Reflect and Begin

Like most gardens and vegetable farms, Morven Kitchen Garden began January indoors reflecting on the past year, planning for the growing season ahead, and starting seeds in the greenhouse.

REFLECT

Here is look back at some highlights from 2018 season:

Internship Program triples in size

We expanded our internship program beyond the summer, to have positions in the spring and fall semesters. In 2018, nine undergrad students interned at MKG, up from three students in 2017. In addition to paid interns, through a partnership with UVA Career Centers Intern Placement Program (IPP), we had our first student doing their internship for credit.

 

MKG Students win Sustainability Award

At the 2018 Earth Week Sustainability Banquet, the Morven Kitchen Garden won the award for “Outstanding Work in Sustainability for a Traditional Green Group”.  We were honored MKG Exec  received this award and were recognized for their vital work and leadership.  Their initiative, enthusiasm, and commitment makes the garden happen from leading workdays and operating a CSA, to promoting the garden at events on grounds and at the garden.  Please see our list of 2018 MKG Students.

 

Opening of the First Lady’s Food Lab

Located a few hundred feet from the garden, the First Lady’s Food Lab provides both an indoor space for learning, meeting, and cooking as well an initiative to create food and sustainability programs that connect UVA students with the larger community.  With its location close to the garden, the Food Lab provides MKG with an office and meeting space as well as a close bathroom for garden workers

MKG is excited to be part of an inaugural Food Lab program: Food and Health education at Stone Robinson Elementary School. Fourth and Fifth graders rotated through activities at the garden during the Food Lab Launch in October. In November and December, MKG participated in hands on activities in the SRE classroom and at the Health Fair.

 

MKG produce featured in UVA Dining Thanksgiving dinner

For the second year, MKG vegetables were featured in UVA Dining Hall’s Thanksgiving meals. Students grew and harvested over 100 pounds of lettuce mix, kale, and spinach that were used at the Fresh Food Company’s November dinner.  We are excited to work with UVA Dining to have local, fresh and student grown vegetables part of student meals on grounds.

Support from Donors and Community

We are thankful for donations and community support that allows the garden and its programs to thrive, expand, and impact more students and the local community. A donation from the O’Connell Family supports both the garden at large and the internship program. The Jefferson Society provided funds to assist with education and supplies for maintaining our two beehives.

MKG also benefited from donated items this season. With the relocation of the IM-Rec’s Outdoor Rec Center, MKG was able to move and reuse the metal building  once used to store their canoes and kayaks. The building now serves as our wash and pack area at the garden.   A three bay sink, tables, and shelves from the Old Cavalier Inn were donated by the UVA Foundation.

There are many who supported MKG in 2018.  Please see our full lists of 2018 MKG Supporters.

BEGIN

MKG is excited for the 2019 season. Students tabled at the Spring Activity Fair in Newcomb and MKG Exec has been meeting weekly to plan for an exciting spring semester. Three student interns began work at the garden in late January and garden workdays began the first week of February. Hope to see you in the garden this spring!

Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager

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Intern at MKG this Spring!

MKG is looking for spring interns!  This is a great opportunity to learn and participate in sustainable agriculture.

Interns will be involved in crop planning, seeding in the greenhouse, field prep and planting, and harvesting and marketing.

 

Learn more about this rewarding experience:  Spring Internship Application

Applications are due Monday, December 10.

Please contact Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager, with any questions

End of the Summer CSA

Last Friday was the 10th and final week for the summer CSA.  We were able to give out several new crops at the very end which made thing exciting. We were able to give out potatoes, cabbage and eggplant. Now that the CSA is over we are planning on seeding new things and preparing the garden for our next event which is Gazpacho in the Garden. Gazpacho in the Garden will be September 7th from 5:30-8:00 pm. We welcome everyone to come join us for an evening of local food, live music and fun! You can RSVP here: https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/

During the weeks we had our bee classes we learned that the bees really liked flowering plants such as buckwheat, which we sometimes use as a cover crop. So after that we planted two rows of it and recently we have been seeing a lot of honey bees on them, hopefully some of which are our own bees. You can see some of the buckwheat we planted in the picture above, it is the plant with white flowers right behind the row that is covered.

One thing that is fairly new at the farm is our new wash and pack area. Thanks to Andy and RE we have a new area we can use for wash and pack instead of the food lab, which is under construction now. The new wash and pack which is shown in the image below makes washing both containers and veggies easier because before we had to walk back and forth up the hill to the food lab. Now we can stay closer to the garden, which makes things run more efficiently. Still more work needs to be done to the wash and pack area but we have a great start so far!

Midsummer

Hello all! We are in the midst of the CSA summer season and things are in full swing at Morven. The squash and cucumber plants in the hoop house are producing at an impressive rate, and we already have more squash plants in the ground in the outside beds. Blink and some of the squash and zucchini grow to be the size of an infant child! We have encountered an interesting pest in some of the squash plants, however. The squash vine borer moth has lain larvae in the base of some of the plants in the hoop house, and these little fellas are attempting to eat their way out of the squash plant as we speak. These creepy little dudes can take down a whole squash plant because the larvae destroy the plant at the base. We are working on preforming something akin to emergency squash surgery to remove these aspiring moths to remedy this situation and save the affected squash plants!
Recent days in the garden have included a lot of weed whacking and tilling, as we are in the process of preparing beds for the end of the summer and into the fall. Our tiller is gas powered and very temperamental, but super important in helping us break up the tough clay soil that we Virginians apparently possess in spades. We also just laid down a occultation silage tarp in field B in order to kill existing grass by depriving it of light and cooking it under the black tarp, preparing the way for carrots, beets and greens! Perhaps the most important development this week was our nearing completion of the new wash/pack area at the garden! We will commence using it this week. Here is a photo of the interns moving the last item out of the garage, where the previous wash/pack area was.
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Our bee class with Ken and Karen of the Central Virginia Beekeepers Association continued this week. Previously, we have learned a bit about the life cycle and division of labor unique to these industrious apoideans. Did y’all know that bees can give their comrades specific directions to find nectar and pollen by performing a dance? cause I sure didn’t. Humans and bees are the only two animals on Earth that can communicate directions to a food source like this without having to lead their kin to the food or leave a trail. This week we actually opened up the hive in full beesuits and attempted to find and tag the queen. While we couldn’t find her this time, there is evidence that she has been active within the past 5 days and the hive seems in excellent shape, plus we got to practice using the hive tool to remove the frames and examine them.
In recent days at Bellair we have harvested eggplants. Now, I for one have never paid much attention to eggplants in general but having picked them, I was struck with how beautiful these plants are! Their leaves are laced with purple veins that fade down into elegant purple stems, and this is just one of many varieties! The fruit come in all shades, shapes and sizes. There is even one variety that looks like purple and white marble, as seen below. We also peeled onions this week again and my hands still smell like onions at thisvery moment.
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We are growing our own eggplants at Morven and they will appear in your shares at some point down the line. Anyways, hope you have an awesome rest of your week, see you guys at pickup!
Logan

Just Morven Kitchen Garden Things

Hi friends,

What are the haps at Morven Kitchen Garden, you ask? If you’re receiving our CSA share this summer you may have noticed that our squash, cucumbers, and green beans are now being harvested! In addition, other crops such as broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers are coming soon!

Now, I’d like to take you on a little trip back in time.

 

The picture on top is from June 7th, the day the MKG interns weeded, tilled, and laid compost in rows in the hoop house. Below that is a photo from July 12th, featuring (from left to right) squash, cucumbers, and peppers! What a transformation. It’s been such a delightful experience to be able to help these vegetables grow. And I for one am learning a lot each day. For example, before this summer I had never seen how a squash grows. And if you’re like me, then check out the photo below!

Squash plants put out these beautiful yellow flowers (which are edible) and then produce squash at a rate that requires us to go through and harvest them every other day! How cool.

Now, let’s take a trip into the future. As you may have heard, the upcoming Food Lab at Morven is going to be a newly renovated space that will be opening for use in mid-October. This space will be used by many groups for meetings, educational events, cooking classes, and more! It is located very close to the garden and thus provides a perfect opportunity for people to follow their food, every step of the way, from farm to table.

Because MKG had been using the Food Lab building to wash and pack produce, we needed find a new spot to do this important activity. Thanks to a donation of a used carport, we were able to create an interim covered space to wash and pack vegetables at the garden. As you can see below, work on the carport began this week.

Pictured above are two outstanding Morven employees, Andy and R.E., reconstructing the carport inside the garden.   We are infinitely grateful for their help with this building project and have enjoyed working with them this week.  In addition to being great builders, they are really nice and fun to talk to. 🙂

Anywho, we are excited to announce that this new wash and pack area will be ready for use next week. Its location inside the garden area will make it much easier to wash containers, prepare CSA shares, and more!

REMINDER: Save the date!

Gazpacho in the Garden will be Friday, September 7th from 5:30- 8:00 pm at the Morven Kitchen Garden. Enjoy an evening of local food, live music, garden tours, and fun.  Everyone is welcome to attend and you can RSVP at https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/ 

What Has Been Happening at the Farm?

Monday: We did a lot of weeding. Cleaning containers was a major thing on our to-do list, in the past weeks, it was stressful to leave it all till Thursday/Friday when we need the containers the most, so all the containers were washed and sanitized. We also harvested a bunch of garlic that will be in the CSA shares eventually, right now it is drying so that it will keep longer once it is given out.

Tuesday: We spent the morning at Bellair Farm learning about bees. We got to put on bee suits and get into the hives. We learned about smoking bees and how smoke puts the bees at ease because it makes them think of a forest fire and causes them to gorge on honey and not focus on the beekeepers. The smoke also helps mask the smell of the bee alarm pheromone, which some say smells fruity.  Bellair also has a pollinator garden, which we helped weed and mulch.

Wednesday: We weeded the hoop house before the weeds got out of hand. We also put up stakes so that we could trellis the peppers. We also trellised the cucumbers in the hoop house using a system that puts string down from the ceiling that holds the plants up and allows them to climb up the string. We planted basil and sweet potatoes. Some of the beds were very weedy like the salad turnips, so we weeded them.

Thursday:  This day was another day full of bees. We had beekeepers Ken and Karen come to us and give a lesson on beekeeping. We got to get into the hives and see all the honey and the brood in our own hives at Morven. Before we got to the bees we weeded around the bees and laid landscape fabric, so that everything was nice and neat when they brought back our bees that swarmed. Logan spent most of the day weeding and the rest of us planted seeds for the greenhouse and washed containers for harvest on Friday.

Friday: Friday was CSA day, the interns spent the morning harvesting and washing veggies for the CSA members. Then some interns waited at O’Hill dining to give out shares to some members, while others drove around town and dropped off deliveries.

SAVE THE DATE!!!

Gazpacho in the Garden will be Friday, September 7th from 5:30- 8:00 pm at the Morven Kitchen Garden. Everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy Gazpacho made from Morven grown produce and other yummy treats!  You can RSVP at https://mkggazpacho.splashthat.com/

Meet our Summer Interns!

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~June~ Showers brought both the kickoff of our Summer CSA (this Friday, June 15th) and ALSO our summer interns! Check out their bios below to learn more, and be on the lookout for updates of all the summer happenings from honey bees to bell peppers.

 

Kaitlyn Elliott

Kaitlyn Elliot

Hi! I am Kaitlyn Elliott and I am one of the 2018 Summer interns. I am thrilled to be working with MKG this summer because I volunteered throughout school year and became very interested in all the cool things that go on at Morven. I am a rising 2nd year studying Environmental Science with a minor in Urban and Environmental Planning. I am excited to be learning more about sustainable agriculture first hand. I can’t wait to meet everyone as the summer goes on!

 

Logan Ende

Logan Ende

Heyo, my name is Logan, I am a fourth year at UVa and stoked to be working at Morven this summer! I study Environmental Sciences and relish the opportunity to work outside all summer growing food for you guys. See you this summer!

 

Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy

Hi friends, I’m so happy to introduce myself as one of the MKG Summer Interns! I’m a rising 4th year studying Design Thinking in the School of Architecture with a minor in Global Sustainability. The best part of being an MKG intern is definitely growing delicious veggies and playing in the dirt, but I guess learning about the systems behind small and mid-sized farms is important too. I look forward to meeting you throughout the summer!

 

Elin Woolf

Elin Woolf

Hi there! My name is Elin and I’m excited to learn about sustainable agriculture through working in the Morven Kitchen Garden this summer. Since I was a child, I’ve loved playing farming games online and am now overjoyed to have this opportunity to work on a real farm! I’m a rising fourth year studying Psychology and Economics, with a minor in Global Sustainability. This summer, I’m especially looking forward to learning about different crops, interacting with the bees at Morven, and meeting our CSA members!

 

Spring has Sprung at MKG!

We’ve been having a blast harvesting lettuce mix, greens, radishes and turnips and are excited about preparing the garden for our upcoming crop plan, especially now that the weather seems to have officially warmed up! Next week is Earth Week, which offers a number of opportunities for volunteers to join the Garden in celebrating sustainability and the planet!

Earth Week 2018 Events (April 16 – 22)

Monday: MKG will be selling plants at the Farmer’s Market from 12pm to 4pm in the Central Grounds Amphitheater. Meal plan holders can use Plus Dollars or Cav Advantage throughout the Market. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday: Visit our table at the Earth Week Expo from 11am to 2pm in the Newcomb Ballroom to learn all about MKG.

Wednesday: MKG members will be attending the annual SustainaBanquet to celebrate the university-wide sustainability community and its accomplishments this school year.

Thursday: Come out to SustainaPitch Night at 6pm in the Rotunda Multipurpose Room and vote for MKG to win funding for our Bee Program!

Sunday: Earth Day!

Morven Spring Open House

This weekend was gorgeous, and Saturday was the perfect day to welcome newcomers to the garden for our spring open house. Shoutout to all the great folks who made it out to the garden even though it was Easter/Passover weekend. It was a great day for garden tours and learning more about the sustainable farming that goes on at MKG.

Unfortunately, since it’s still relatively early in the planting season, and this winter and spring has been so unpredictable (it might snow on this weekend? In April!?) the garden doesn’t have much growing outside of the hoophouse. Nevertheless, our great exec team tilled beds and set out tools to give visitors an idea of our timeline, process, and what’s to come. We hope everyone was able to try out a gardening tool, and is motivated to come out when planting begins! Visitors also potted plants and were able to take them home

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Garden tour and tool explaination

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Visitors potting plants. Choices were lettuce, swiss chard, and parsley

Our first planting workday is this Friday, so contact morvenkitchengarden@gmail.com if you want to get your hands dirty. It’s a lot of fun!

If you missed this weekend’s Open House, don’t fret! There are plenty more upcoming opportunities to get out to our beautiful garden:

  • Saturday, April 7: Madison House Big Event will welcome volunteers from 10:30-1:30
  • On going: Weekly workdays. Contact morvenkitchengarden@gmail.com to get on our listserv and get into a carpool!
  • Monday 4/16: Central Grounds Ampitheater. We will be selling plants as a part of the Earth Day Farmers Market from 12:00-4:00

 

Sign up for a workday! And helping out with a harvest like this one (pictured below) could be in your future!

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These beautiful salad greens were grown in our hoophouse and harvested today! They will be sold to Boar’s Head and Greens to Grounds. (Above: mixed greens, below: mizouna)

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Intern at MKG this summer or fall!

It’s not often you find a perfect summer internship position. Like one that allows you to spend time outside with great people, grow and eat sustainable food, and learn about the environment, business, AND sustainability. But a summer internship at Morven Kitchen Garden offers all of that and more!

Join us for a productive summer of growing and selling sustainable, local, and fresh food. Help us promote sustainability in the Charlottesville community and take home some fresh produce while you’re at it.

MKG is looking for three summers interns to work 11 weeks this summer (late May to early August) for about 25 hours a week.

We are also looking for two fall interns to work 13 weeks this fall semester (early September to early December) for 8-10 hours a week.  Our website offers more details.

Learn more about this fabulous and rewarding experience:  MKG 2018 Internship Application

Applications are due Thursday, April 5.

Please contact Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager, with any questions