The lease was up and the year was to be filled with multiple challenges while moving the six-year-old Manna Meal Garden operation.
In April, a huge truck and an army of smaller vehicles began the multiple-month task of carrying plants, sheds, a tractor, myriad tools and miscellaneous equipment across Charleston to make a brand new start on top of the old Rock Lake swimming pool. The physical move and restoration of the old garden space lasted all summer.
Those of us who grew up spending summers swimming at the State’s largest pool in this Spring Hill area of South Charleston, couldn’t have imagined it would once again bring us summer fun by becoming our huge garden planter.
The miracle of the summer, in the midst of all the moving disruptions, was we were still growing fresh produce for the soup kitchen until the last raised bed was demolished at the old garden and the first seeds were planted upon arrival at the new garden. The relocation was complete by mid-October. Thus begins our new chapter.
Having Rock Lake Presbyterian Church, which now owns the Rock Lake property, and the City of South Charleston welcome our operation with open arms was without question the most joyful highlight of the year.
The new garden space introduced us to a challenge–water issues—after all, we were sitting right on Spring Hill, aptly named because of the many springs which supplied the old swimming pool and surrounding creeks with water. Several volunteer gardeners, who in their professional lives are engineers and The City of South Charleston volunteers helped design ground water controls. Tons of soil amendments were hauled in to raise the planting area. Volunteers constructed more raised bed planters which allow the water to become a blessing instead of a challenge. Composting sheds were built by the City of South Charleston to help us create more ‘homemade’ soil for next year.
Our 2015 gardening efforts yielded a miraculous 1,180 pounds of fresh food for the soup kitchen.
This beautiful garden space will be an outdoor classroom for anyone who wants to learn to garden by working alongside our volunteers. Manna Meal Garden is supported by the City of South Charleston and its workers, Rock Lake Presbyterian Church, Kanawha County Master Gardener Volunteers, Boy and Girl Scouts, sports organizations, churches, businesses, farmers, clubs, colleges, universities, AmeriCorps volunteers, and by kind, generous individual gardeners who come out, and work tirelessly to bless the lives of others. Volunteers gave 1,825 hours of service this year.
Our community cares! We are grateful.
Garden volunteers descended on the winterized garden Saturday, November 21, 2015 for another harvest and morning of labor. It is a time to be thankful for the many gifts from the garden in 2015. It is a time to thank all the volunteers who came to the garden and gave service. Thank you everyone! We are thankful for you. The community is thankful for you.
Volunteers include Martha Ballman, Jean Simpson (lead), Beth McClintock, Asley Orr, Amy and Chris Postalwait, Scott and Susan Hamilton, Tom Larkin, Mike Burgess, John Maier and Therese Cox. photos by Therese Cox and blog by Myra Dolan
Beth is thankful for the sunshine that flooded the garden Saturday.
Manna Meal Garden Blog by Therese Cox for Nov. 14. Photos by Therese Cox and Jean Simpson.
It may be mid-November but we’ve still got lots of garden tasks to accomplish.
This Saturday, we turned our attention away from amending the main garden (which we will do at a later date) and focused on three major responsibilities – harvesting kale, filling raised beds with mushroom compost and weed-whacking the miniature golf area (for the Rock Lake Presbyterian Church).
Good news is that Tom Larkin has returned to the garden! Welcome back, Tom.
We also were assisted by Boy Scout Troop 2 member Nicholas and his mother, Jennifer. Parent volunteer Jeffrey Willis also helped a great deal by cutting grass throughout the garden and in the miniature golf area.
Thanks also to Scott and Susan Hamilton and Jerry Childers, who worked on the electric lines for the light posts. That leaves regular volunteers Jean Simpson, Beth McClintock, Jim Kinnison, Patricia Paul, Paul Schrecongost (and his granddaughter, Anna) and Therese Cox.
While the temperature was quite chilly, the sun beamed on the garden crew. We dismantled the interior fence for the purpose of cutting grass. Lots of kale was harvested. Nicholas proved himself quite the work horse by filling three raised beds with compost. Way to go!
A main task was to attack the Putt-Putt area, quite overgrown and bushy, not only with vines and weeds but also with giant clumps of ornamental grass. We got a good start on the job and will continue next week.
Manna Meal Garden Blog & Photos for Nov. 7 by Therese Cox
Three boys and three parents representing BSA Troop 2 from
Charleston Catholic High School served the garden for a second time this summer.
Matt Spiegel, Andrew Strickland and Will Strickland are working on their “citizenship in the community” badges – which require eight hours of service. We’re glad they chose the Manna Meal Garden. Thanks also to parents Traci Strickland, Wendy Young and Jeffrey Willis for spending the morning in the 50-degree temperatures and doing lots of raking.
Loyal and long-time volunteers also helped – lead gardener Jean Simpson, Patricia Paul, Jim Kinnison, Gerald Burgy, Paul Schrecongost and Therese Cox.
As mentioned, raking mulch was the main order of business this Saturday. City of South Charleston workers had delivered the mulch during the week. Our plan is to cover the entire in-ground garden with a few inches of mulch and topped with ground-up leaves to raise the level up and out of the dampness from the natural springs present.
While the crew got a good start, we’ll need more mulch to complete the task next Saturday, it is hoped.
Gardeners also harvested kale, lettuce and Swiss chard – all of which are growing beautifully under their translucent cloth tunnels. The rainbow chard, planted two weeks ago in the raised beds up front, is thriving also.
Thanks to Will, who engineered a kind of wooden bridge spanning the mud hole created by the tractor wheels near the leaf piles by laying old boards over the squishy areas.
As a reminder, volunteers no long are working on Wednesdays. We expect to finish off Saturday sessions before December.
Manna Meal Garden Blog & Photos for Oct. 31 by Therese Cox
Chilly weather did not deter nine garden volunteers Saturday! At least it did not rain.
But the temperature rose and the work to be done kept us toasty.
Thank you Ann Garcelon, Midge Schrader, Gerald Burgy, Jim Kinnison, Paul Schrecongost, Beth McClintock, Gary Brown, Jean Simpson and Therese Cox.
Off came the protective, translucent covers over the kale, spinach and Swiss chard.
There was plenty to be harvested, and pick we did, filling crates to overflowing. We keep the vegetables under wraps not only to keep them warm, but also to restrict Rudy, our fat groundhog denizen from chomping down on the tender greens meant for the Manna Meal customers.
We even discovered a few well-formed radishes that were ripe.
Gerald screwed several more boards to the new raised beds while Gary enriched the compost in the bins with mushroom mulch. He also continued to fill the new raised beds with soil.
We meet again next Saturday, skipping Wednesdays now that daylight savings time has ended.