Spring is volunteer season on Big Ugly Creek. The greenhouse has been a major focus of activity. We have also been able to welcome guests to our after school program after a challenging winter prolonged by several post snow weeks of flooding interrupting both school and after school buses.
The greenhouse has drawn volunteers ranging in age from five to 73. The major activity (see photo above) is transplanting the 4400 seedlings that have filled the greenhouse this past two months. Photo two shows a small amount of that yield including our children’s sled water bath that we soak the trays in after seeding and transplanting.
The common reaction to volunteers is their surprise at “how much fun” it is to transplant. High school and college age boys get a little sheepish at their occasional acts of involuntary plantslaughter (“I can’t believe how delicate those stems are.”) but even the most big fingered have a pretty good success rate. “Peaceful”—is the second favorite review of the activity from grade school children to septuagenarians who relish an opportunity to slow down after a busy school day (or just calming down from dodging the flood debris on our local roads).
Our littlest volunteers look more toward the fun and less the reflection and are kept busy refilling water bottles from our rain barrels and running them to the greenhouse. We have found that just the little bit of chlorination required by the health department to treat our well water slows down the growth of our plants and have committed to only using rain water this season.
We’ve written before about the importance of the greenhouse to our growing teen and tween intern program. It has also become a major focus for the community service hours required by the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) for benefit recipients. We are determined in both situations that dedicated volunteers come out with some real skills and accomplishments they can cite in future job applications. Saying you helped raise 4400 plants for over 80 families to raise scores of thousands of vegetables is not a bad place to start.