When I talk with people out in the community, often they will say, “You have a pretty cool job!” While I agree with them and share that one downside of the job is sometimes spending more time on a computer than with plants, I happily point out that the best part of my job is having the privilege of knowing some of the most wonderful people. Many of them are our volunteers. And, what I do would be impossible without them. The community and school gardens wouldn’t be here without them.
Did you know that our spring school garden seedling distribution reached 40 sites, impacting 3,500 students? It wouldn’t happen without our Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs). Whether they are packing seeds, counting seedlings, or crafting planting layouts, their support is what makes it possible. We have had some successful community events with our community gardens, offering education, tours, and opportunities to ask MGVs an array of veggie growing questions. Even yesterday, Fred, one of our amazing MGVs, was helping kiddos plant seeds at the Autism Inclusion Event at Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library. What fun Fred and I had spending time with our community and sharing our love of gardening.
Beyond the school gardens, there are the county volunteers that serve as garden managers. These volunteers put in the time (and sweat) to make the gardens flourish, and keep these spaces available for people to join. Their stewardship means these spaces remain available for the garden-loving public to become members, so they can enjoy growing vegetables, too. The seven community gardens in our program exist because of volunteers creating them, and the gardens continue to operate smoothly because of volunteers leading them. Thank you!
Sadly, sometimes I have to say goodbye to people that are pretty amazing, like dear Mr. Tom Hopp. To Mr. Hopp: While your skills were remarkable, you were very kind and patient when sharing your knowledge, which means you are missed even more. The seeds you sowed in your stewardship of Culverhouse Community Garden will be reaped for years to come, by all who garden there. Thank you!
To the volunteers: I thank you for making my job the very best one to be had in Sarasota. Knowing and working with you is a privilege. Thank you for sharing your love of gardening and making it so others have the opportunity to learn and enjoy the same.