The Transylvania Times, August 3, 2015
Teen volunteers from Outward Bound and the Rotarian Youth Leadership have been helping out at Rice Street Community Garden this summer.
The teens, aged 14 to 18, harvested vegetables, watered plants, pulled weeds, filled planter boxes with soil, shoveled woodchips, killed noxious insects, and removed invasive plants in the woods adjoining the garden.
The garden, located in downtown Brevard on a quarter-acre owned by St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, is now in its fourth year of operation. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, who donate all of the garden’s produce to Sharing House and Bread of Life.
Right away, Outward Bound’s 11 volunteers and four instructors got into the spirit of the garden-that-gives.
“It was the most fun service day we’ve had,” said one of the teens, as others nodded in agreement.
Participants in the Outward Bound program commit to activities that foster stewardship of the earth, in addition to outdoor adventures.
The day before working at the garden on July 15, they had been Rock Climbing.
When volunteer Rachel Necky from New Jersey was asked whether she wanted a kneeling pad to protect her jeans while she knelt to pull weeds, she declined.
“We’ve been in the woods so long, we can’t even feel the dirt anymore,” she said.
Once she and her friends finished the weeding and other jobs during their four hours of service, they started harvesting cantaloupes, cucumbers, pole beans, and squash. They wouldn’t stop until they’d set a new one-day record for the Rice Street Community Garden by harvesting 80.5 pounds.
That put the garden well on its way to beating its previous season record of 828 pounds. Near the end of July, with two months still to go, the garden had given 696 pounds to Brevard‘s soup kitchen and food bank.
Almost a month before the Outward Bound visit, a group of 10 teens and 2 instructors from the Rotarian Youth Leadership, a one-week service program, did their own volunteer session on June 25.
The Outward Bound office in Asheville learned about the Brevard volunteer opportunity from the garden’s Facebook page.
The Rotarians, who visited in 2014 as well as 2015, found out about the garden from Bart Renner and Maryann Mickewicz of the Extension Service’s Brevard office.
Outward Bound will be returning for a second time in 2015, late in August. One of the instructors, Jorie McCann from New Hampshire, said, “They learn to cooperate and that they are capable of much more than they think they are.”
An Outward Bound volunteer, Grady Hayes from Massachusetts, added, “Back home, I have a set group of friends. Here, I meet people who might not have the same interests, but we still have to work things out and work as a team.”
At the Rice Street Community Garden, he and the others certainly proved that they can do just that.
As Bill Chandler, a member of the garden’s three-person steering committee, said, “The Outward Bound youth embraced their assigned garden tasks with enthusiasm and high energy but were most intrigued and eager to help with the organic way of fighting garden pests-squishing squash beetles and capturing Japanese beetles by hand before tossing them into a pail of soapy water! The kids enjoyed the entire morning while following one of their core principles, namely, serving those in need.”