A Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) horticulture student delivered nearly 1,000 plants to the Community Garden Friday, May 29, 2020. Community garden volunteers will tend the plants this summer and donate the harvest to local ministries.
Brandy Richthammer is a horticulture program student at WPCC. To help raise money for the program, students and staff hold an annual plant sale where they sell plants that have been raised by the spring semester students. Due to COVID-19 lock downs, the program didn’t sell as many plants this year; a lot were left over.
"We had all these plants that were just sitting there, getting rooted, and were going to die," Richthammer said. "I asked the program director if we could do something with them, and he said that I could."
Richthammer said she wasn’t aware of any community gardens in Burke County. Her grandmother used to own a flower shop in Lenoir and her family is from Kings Creek, so she Googled "Caldwell County Community Garden." The City’s Community Garden on College Avenue popped up.
"I got in contact with some of the volunteers, and they said they would raise the plants and donate the produce to local ministries," Richthammer said.
The person Richthammer contacted was Ellen Roberts. Roberts is a Master Gardener who volunteers at the Community Garden. Click here to watch her Square Foot Gardening Demonstration videos. Roberts said she and other volunteers would use the plants to plant several raised beds and donate any left overs.
Friday at lunchtime, Richthammer showed up with a truckload of 992 plants. The flats were full of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cantaloupes, cucumbers, herbs, scallions, and more. Roberts estimated that Richthammer brought between $400 and $500 worth of plants.
"We’ll be able to grow a lot of produce with this," Roberts said. "We’re very thankful to Brandy for contacting us and to WPCC and all the students involved for donating all these beautiful plants."
Once harvested, the volunteers will donate the fruits and vegetables to local food pantries here in Caldwell and in Burke County.
The City of Lenoir Community Garden is located at 1419 College Ave. in Downtown Lenoir. The City, Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation, and Caldwell County Ag Extension Office partner to manage the community gardens and provide plots for residents. Garden beds are available to rent during season. Volunteers, Master Gardeners, and Ag Extension Agents schedule work days and training days to help gardeners make their thumbs as green as possible!
Brandy Richthammer, right, contacted Master Gardener Ellen Roberts, left, about donating plants to the City’s Community Garden. Also pictured: Richthammer’s son, Gray.