Sprouting From the Earth
We've been working for the last two years to create a functioning garden to help support our ministry here at Camp Magruder. While it is still a work in progress to figure out what grows here and when, we give our garden our best and continually learn from it.
In June 2010, John Pitney (volunteer who is responsible for a lot of our earth care projects here on site), designed a plan to create a working greenhouse for Magruder. We worked with a local food bank called "Food Roots" to find materials and get advice on the soil and weather here. When it came time to build the new structure, our high school MADD (Music, Art, Dance, and Drama) Camp and some volunteers from Food Roots spent several hours throughout one week to help build the greenhouse. This was built with lumber from our old swim dock as well as recycled materials. We found that we only really needed to purchase a few things including the plastic covering. Some day there are plans to put doors on the greenhouse to make it more successful in the fall, winter, and spring around here.
After hearing all the positive comments on the greenhouse over the year and being able to use it as a teaching tool, we dreamed bigger. A map was drawn of how we wanted the new space to flow and measurements were taken of this new space. In May 2011, volunteers removed the existing outdoor garden that was just too small to do anything like we wanted. The ground was tilled and the soil we found was surprisingly rich. In June, John Pitney and MADD camp worked to make our dream garden a reality. New raised beds were constructed and wheelbarrows of compost (made here at camp) were added to them.
It was a much later start to the garden than we wanted to get, but in early July the beds were planted. We didn't exactly know what to grow so we decided to try broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, carrots, green onions, lettuces of all sorts, snap peas, beans, potatoes, and even corn. We've been diligently watering and using an organic slug bait all summer and have enjoyed watching as things have begun to grow.
We get comments all the time from people about how impressive the garden is now. It is so green and there are so many different things growing. Things people don't expect to grow here, have been doing quite well. It's nice to supplement our food service with fresh garden vegetables and I've noticed kids eating more greens because they saw them outside or they helped pick them. We've been lucky that there is a lot of support for our garden. People always ask how they can help, and I'm always happy to say by watering, weeding, or picking produce. I even visited with a guest from 4th of July Family Camp who later went on to send me an entire manilla envelope full of seeds to plant for next year.
In the future, we hope to build more seating space in the garden as well as an informational board listing how people can help, why we have a garden, gardening tips, and how they can take these ideas back home with them to a local garden. We'd like to continue to use the garden as a teaching tool talking about soil, compost, pollination, pesticides, and organic gardening. We'd also like to continue to improve our garden space and growing techniques as well as support our dining hall with fresh options for a healthy life.