CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Growth is good for gardens, but can be difficult for organizations. A garden that's going through a "growth spurt" with grace is the Manna Meal Community Garden. For the past two years, director Jean Simpson and tireless coordinator Myra Dolin spearheaded the planning, planting, weeding, sowing and preserving of the vegetable garden.
A whopping 1,958 pounds of food came from the garden. As important, the garden became a symbol for the organization, increasing the awareness of the challenges of addressing hunger in our community.
Jean and Myra are stepping back, allowing a cast of volunteers to guide the garden into the future. Myra promises to be on hand to guide new project director Neva Lusk. Jean said there are many other folks in place to help as well.
"Of course we're scared to let go," Jean said, laughing. "But it's the perfect time to do this, and just like everything else with Manna Meal, everything falls into place. The people who have stepped up are all blessings to us."
Gary Brown, Judy Darr and Ann Garcelon will be garden coordinators -- planning the planting and tending needs of the garden. Coordinating volunteers will fall to Nancy Broyles, Darr and Steve Chionsini. There are harvest coordinators, who will see that all of the produce is brought to the kitchen and properly preserved. They are Broyles, Chionsini and Mary Jo Armbrust.
The group has a fundraising/community outreach committee, headed by Kathy McKinley, Suzanne Kingry and James Bush. And McKinley, Garcelon, Kingry and Bob Lockhart will coordinate the blog, news releases and other communications.
"And we're not finished for this season -- cabbage, kale, onions and lettuce are still coming in," Simpson said.
Another growing organization
The West Virginia Botanic Garden celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. In the group's recent newsletter, organization President Linda Bagby recalls the area 10 years ago. The Morgantown Utility Board had just finished timbering around the former Tibbs Run reservoir.
"The attractive spot beckoned, but there was nowhere to park, no road to get down the hill to the reservoir, only a few dirt trails and nothing to tell a person where to go," she writes. "Slash from the logging littered the meadow. Rusting vehicles, tires and trash spoiled the natural beauty."
Bagby tells of the group's efforts to make changes, and describes the site today.