Our volunteers still helped us outside last summer, while staying safe with COVID precautions in place.
This past year, our volunteer program was a bit ‘interesting’ compared to previous years. Our days of gathering in the morning, sometimes with over 40 volunteers showing up, drinking coffee while sharing our personal gardening stories and travels together, came to a halt. Our communal snack break, one of our favorite moments to look forward to every week, also stopped. While this all seems like a dream that we once had so long ago, it is important to remember and recognize that this did not stop us in our quest to get our hands dirty and show those plants who is boss! Our volunteer’s dedication in coming to the gardens to help us despite our questionnaires and minimal social interaction was strong.
With only three volunteers allowed per day in the early morning, our volunteers continued to work hard and cherish these moments. As for most of us, it was the most social interaction we had to look forward to. We even heard stories of some rogue-weeders visiting outside of normal garden hours (don’t worry, we won’t mention names!). It is clear that the garden doesn’t just need us there for maintenance; we also need the garden for our own mental health and clarity. The amount of happy, smiling faces I saw during some of the hardest moments in our lives was inspiring and continues to energize me to the next adventures we seek in 2021.
With our minimal volunteer season and with our restricted hours, we still managed to clock in 537 labor hours this past year. While this number is around 20% of our normal total volunteer hours, we are still so grateful and appreciative of those who came to continue to work despite the challenges, and to those who stayed in touch. Many volunteers even provided hand-made masks for our students and staff to stay safe. Your support and dedication to our gardens is essential in maintaining our beautiful space for the public to enjoy, and we cannot thank you enough.
So what is next? We currently CANNOT have volunteers indoors to help with our online plant sale or to help us with growing. While this news may be heart-breaking, it is also essential to keep you, our staff, and students safe while the pandemic still carries on. The future is looking bright, however, in that we will most likely continue an outdoor volunteer program similar in structure to last year. We will keep you posted on updates as we get closer. One thing is
certain: we miss YOU, your knowledge, helping hands, laughter, and SNACKS!