Week 1: May 6-11 – Welcome, Weeding, and What to do With Rhubarb

Topics:

  • A look into the history of the Vermont Community Garden Network and the establishment of the Community Teaching Garden
  • Information on the Tommy Thompson site and discussed Intervale community basics

Summary of the Week:

  • Orientation to the garden site
  • Introductions to each other and instructors
  • Hands-on work with weeding, maintaining active and fallow garden sites, planting peas, and even harvesting rhubarb

After a long streak of sunshine and cloudless skies the first CTG class of the summer met on Monday, May 6 for an introduction to each other, the Vermont Community Garden Network, and the Community Teaching Garden at the Tommy Thompson site. After providing the background of the Vermont Community Garden Network, Libby Weiland introduced herself as the Program Manager and Denise Quick as the Lead Teacher. Following all of the introductions of students and instructors we took some time to familiarize ourselves with the garden and Tommy Thompson site. More specifically we took some time to tour the Community Teaching Garden. Following our tour, it was time for a little garden work. The group worked together to plant a row of peas in a shared bed. As the sun set on a perfect spring day in Vermont, the class concluded with some weeding of the shared space in the center of the garden.

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The Community Teaching Garden waiting for eager gardeners at the end of a sunny day.
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The group weeds and prepares the shared bed for a row of peas.
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A row of peas made up the first planting of the season at the CTG site is completed by the group.

The dry, sunny weather in Vermont was interrupted by a much-needed rainy day on Wednesday, May 8 at the Community Teaching Garden. The drenching rain stopped just in time for class to start and group two to meet and begin our summer of garden fun. As we gathered under the roof while the rain carried on lightly, introductions were done and stories of connections to the land and community were told. The diverse group of students then took to the garden for a tour and chance to become acquainted with the site. There was more weeding to be done and with many hands, the work was efficient and the center circle of the garden looked healthy. Before parting as the rain picked up again and the sun disappeared the group spread some clover seed over the center garden circle.

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The group toured the Tommy Thompson site and looked at the tool shed with Denise.
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Rainboots were perfect for the weather on Wednesday.

On Thursday, May 9 the group met at the Ethan Allen Homestead site to help clean up and maintain the garden before it rests for a season. After a quick orientation to the site from Denise, the group was eager and worked hard for the next hour and a half on weeding and raking. The site was transformed and the reward was learning how to harvest rhubarb, which many students happily took home. Rhubarb plants grow rapidly and can be identified by their large, lush leaves and bright red stalks. We learned that it is important to pull up near the base of the stem while twisting slightly. It is also important to remember that the base of the stem and leaves are toxic but the stalk can be used for delicious deserts and in various forms. Some ideas on how to eat your rhubarb are in pie, jam, syrup, or crisp. If you are curious for more information on growing and cooking rhubarb you can look at page 288 in Edward C. Smith’s The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, the book we received through the class on Monday or Wednesday, and from this website, http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/rhubarb.cfm.

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There were many weeds to be dug up.
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Gardeners hard at work on weeding the Ethan Allen Homestead site.
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The big rhubarb plants waiting to be harvested.

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