We held a little garden party at Camp Fletcher, but this garden party was light on the tea, scones, and cucumber sandwiches and heavy on the manual labor.
About a dozen of Camp Fire Alabama’s staff along with our AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteers showed up at the camp garden on Friday, to hoe, pull weeds, put in more plants and generally spruce up the place under the direction of our VISTA garden specialist Corri Marteny.
Our garden party attendees were a tired, dirty, sweaty mess by day’s end, but there was a whole lot of happy laughter ringing out between the rows all day long.
Camp Fletcher has two gardens. There’s a small education garden filled with flowers, herbs and vegetable plants. We use this garden to teach young campers and school field trip participants about where their food comes from. Education garden activities are based on a curriculum developed by members of our VISTA team.
Then there’s the larger production garden that we use to raise produce we’re selling twice a week at the Bessemer Farmer’s Market. Proceeds from the garden will be used to expand our garden programming.
Thursday was opening day for the farmer’s market, and we sold out our first harvest of yellow squash and cucumbers. Another bounty of squash and cukes will be on offer at today’s market. We also have okra, peppers, beans, watermelons and tomatoes in the ground, and they will be available for sale at the market as soon as they’re ready.
In the next few weeks, garden specialist Corri will be upgrading our composting program. She will be turning uneaten food at Camp Fletcher’s dining hall into rich soil. Turning food waste into black gold is a kind of natural alchemy, but it’s just the start. Corri is also planning to incorporate vermiculture (a fancy word for using worms to help in the composting process) into our gardening bag of tricks.
So look for us at the farmer’s market in Bessemer on Mondays and Thursdays (see their site for locations and times), and buy some delicious veggies fresh picked from Camp Fletcher’s garden. We’ve given our yellow squash a trial run and we promise it makes an amazing casserole. If you want our recipe, just ask.