Another season is wrapping up, and there is so much to reflect on, even from these last few months. It feels like we just haven’t stopped moving. In September we had our final workshop for our Backyard Gardeners, which also doubled as a potluck dinner to celebrate the end of the season. Participants brought their families and a dish to share and we gathered around a fire to enjoy the harvest. Old time string music played as we chatted about everything from gardening and recipes to square dancing and mutual friends we didn’t know we had. People walked through the teaching garden to see how it had changed since they last saw it and took in the view of downtown Wheeling  before sitting down to dinner.

Over dinner, we had the vendor manager from the Public Market, Grow Ohio Valley’s year round farmer’s market, discuss the process for becoming a vendor. One gardener expressed an interest in selling homemade teas, and others were surprised to learn just how quickly and easily you could sign up to sell your produce. 

We ended the night by having gardeners reflect on the successes and challenges they’d had this season. They were proud of their huge sunflowers, many pounds of potatoes, and that they had learned how to can. Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge was keeping up with weeds. It was a really beautiful night filled with delicious food, good memories, and the early hints of cool weather. 

The celebration potluck may have been our final workshop for the gardeners this season, but it wasn’t our last time seeing some of them. In October we switched gears into full tilt planning for our Harvest Gathering, our annual fall festival to celebrate local food and farmers. This year we were excited to have four of our backyard gardeners attend as artisan vendors! One of our gardeners does natural plant dyeing and printmaking with flowers from her garden, and another uses spoils from her garden to make natural soaps and other natural products. It was so special to get to feature so many of our gardeners in this other context.

It’s usually hard to believe that another season is done, but this one was so jam packed I believe it! We hosted 7 workshops (all in person for the first time ever!), went on 56 garden visits, tilled the yards of eleven gardeners, collected so many harvest logs, distributed perennials to 20 past and present Backyard Gardeners, in addition to the countless emails sent and supplies distributed. It was a busy season, but it was worth it. We had a lot of successful gardens and a lot of folks willing to persevere through challenges, and I’m excited for it to all happen again next year.