Manna Meal

Charleston, WV

Flower

2015 Year End Manna Meal Garden Report

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.

A Day of Thanksgiving at the Garden

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.

Beth is thankful for the sunshine that flooded the garden Saturday.

Beth is hard at work.

Beth is hard at work.

Newly delivered pile of mulch

Newly delivered pile of mulch 

 

Jim, Mike and Chris

Jim, Mike and Chris – The Engineers who solved some engineering & design challenges

 

Row covers protect crops from freezing night temps

Row covers protect crops from freezing night temps

 

 

Asley helps cover Swiss chard before upcoming low temperatures.

Asley helps cover Swiss chard before upcoming low temperatures.

Jean and Martha re-cover the chard, spinach and lettuce after a fruitful harvest.

Jean and Martha re-cover the chard, spinach and lettuce after a fruitful harvest.

There is still plenty of work to be done

There is still plenty of work to be done

Another view of the space still loving the wintry weather and producing food for the soup kitchen

Another view of the space still loving the wintry weather and producing food for the soup kitchen

Thankful for the harvest in late November!

Thankful for the harvest in late November! 

Kale is still growing plentifully

Kale is still growing plentifully

The crew

The crew

Row covers at work

Row covers are performing their job very well

The volunteer crew celebrates (or mourns) the end of garden work for 2015.

The volunteer crew celebrates (or mourns) the end of garden work for 2015.

Beth nearly has moved all the perennials into place.

Beth nearly has moved all the perennials into place.

Raised beds are ready for winter

Raised beds are ready for winter 

Saturday was a swan song for the marigolds in the raised beds.

Saturday was a swan song for the marigolds in the raised beds.

Volunteers on Saturday covered fall crops of kale and Swiss chard.

Volunteers on Saturday covered fall crops of kale and Swiss chard.

Winter sun casts shadows across the green leafy kale

Winter sun casts shadows across the green leafy kale 

The Giraffe in the Garden

 

Saturday's crew both worked in the garden and cleared brush from the miniature golf course.

Saturday’s crew both worked in the garden and cleared brush from the miniature golf course.

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.

Paul brought his beautiful granddaughter to the garden

Paul brought his beautiful granddaughter to the garden [below]

and Paul brought his granddaughter

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.

Some gardens have scarecrows but Manna Meal enlists the best! The Giraffe.

Some gardens have scarecrows but Manna Meal enlists the best! The Giraffe.

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.

That boy is tall!

That boy is tall!

Jeff, a parent volunteer with Boy Scout Troop 2, accomplished a lot with the lawn mower.

Jeff, a parent volunteer with Boy Scout Troop 2, accomplished a lot with the lawn mower.

Jennifer brought her son, Nicholas, a member of Troop 2. He is working on a badge.

Jennifer brought her son, Nicholas, a member of Troop 2. He is working on a badge.

Jim whacks weeds at the miniature golf course.

Jim whacks weeds at the miniature golf course.

Nicholas and Annabelle spend their Saturday morning at the garden. Here, they take a minute away from picking kale

Nicholas and Annabelle spend their Saturday morning at the garden. Here, they take a minute away from picking kale

Patricia harvests kale. There still is plenty to pick.

Patricia harvests kale. There still is plenty to pick.

Paul, on right, welcomes Tom back to the garden after Tom's motorcycle accident.

Paul, on right, welcomes Tom back to the garden after Tom’s motorcycle accident.

Susan and Jerry work on the electricity to the light poles.

Susan and Jerry work on the electricity to the light poles.

 

 

BSA Troop 2 gives service at the garden

Manna Meal Garden Blog & Photos for Nov. 7 by Therese Cox

Three boys and three parents representing BSA Troop 2 from

Saturday's diehard group included, from left, Matt Spiegel, Andrew Strickland, Patricia Paul, Jean Simpson, Jim Kinnison, Will Strickland, Traci Strickland and Wendy Young.

Saturday’s diehard group included, from left, Matt Spiegel, Andrew Strickland, Patricia Paul, Jean Simpson, Jim Kinnison, Will Strickland, Traci Strickland and Wendy Young.

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.

Gerald Burgy yanks up spent flowers. Mulch will be spread over them so the dead stalks will decompose during winter.

Gerald Burgy yanks up spent flowers. Mulch will be spread over them so the dead stalks will decompose during winter.

Matt and Andrew take the mulch to even it out.

Matt and Andrew take the mulch to even it out.

Jeffrey Willis dumps a load of mulch onto the main garden area.

Jeffrey Willis dumps a load of mulch onto the main garden area.

Jim covers the kale so Our not-so-beloved Rudy the fat groundhog won't be able to serve himself.

Jim covers the kale so Our not-so-beloved Rudy the fat groundhog won’t be able to serve himself.  

 

Wendy unloads a cart of mulch.

Wendy unloads a cart of mulch.

Patricia also joins in the mulch spreading. The City of South Charleston (thanks, Gerald) has been delivering mulch workers gather and grind.

Patricia also joins in the mulch spreading. The City of South Charleston (thanks, Gerald) has been delivering mulch workers gather and grind.

Traci joins her two sons on the spreading of mulch.

Traci joins her two sons on the spreading of mulch.  

Halloween Harvest

Manna Meal Garden Blog & Photos for Oct. 31 by Therese Cox

Jean, Midge and Ann discover that the chard, kale and spinach were ready for harvesting.

Jean, Midge and Ann discover that the chard, kale and spinach were ready for harvesting.

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.

Volunteers harvested oodles of Swiss chard.

Volunteers harvested oodles of 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.

Gerald uses a power drill to attach boards to a raised bed

Gerald uses a power drill to attach boards to a raised bed

We meet again next Saturday, skipping Wednesdays now that daylight savings time has ended.

Gardeners plucked some plump radishes out of the garden Saturday.

Gardeners plucked some plump radishes out of the garden Saturday.

Gary adds some mushroom compost to the bin.

Gary adds some mushroom compost to the bin.

 

Jim and Paul help re-plant Lilys in the perennial garden.

Jim and Paul help re-plant Lilies in the perennial garden.

The Saturday crew--Paul, Jean, Gerald, Beth, Midge, Jim, Ann (and Therese).

The Saturday crew–Paul, Jean, Gerald, Beth, Midge, Jim, Ann (and Therese).