M&M!: Project Grows

projectgrows.500Project Grows is a teaching community vegetable garden at the Berry Farm, an Augusta County Parks and Recreation property. They have set aside space for a Pollinator Wayside.

This facility is an approved field trip site for 3rd and 6th grades, with a curriculum on gardening ecosystems!  Perfect opportunity.

From VA Native Plant Society member and HMN Chris Bowlen: (Project Grows) is more than a community garden. There is a riparian area and wood lot on the property. They are adding native plants in the riparian areas. Ecology and farming meet school kids here. Although growing healthy food is the focus now, ecology could be part of the program if it is not already.

The pollinator site is adjacent to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) area, which also has an interpretive buffer sign.  Ann M. and Ann C. put a layer of newspaper and provided mulch piled high on the site in Dec. 2014, to make prep easier next spring.

From Site coordinator Ann Murray: Sandy (Greene) just happened to stop by the site at the time Ann Cline and I were doing that work.  We newspapered and mulched a 10 ft. by 20 ft. section adjoining the CREP easement Dec 5th.  We would like it to be twice as long. I’ve been reading a lot about not disturbing the soil structure more than necessary, and established a productive tomato garden last year by just mulching heavily. Sandy isn’t sure that we can kill back the fescue there without pulling it out. In any case, it will be easier to do that and we can till, if necessary, in the Spring. 

Project Grows has a huge pile of mulch provided free from the county. They said it doesn’t contain walnut, but it is probably stuff from clean up along the roads.  Very coarse, but it should do and we are allowed to take as much as we want!

We will set up a meeting soon to work on the design with our whole group. 

Some of these photos were taken by Ann in November 2014. One includes a roped off 10 ft x20 ft. section for the site. I think I would like to make it 10X40, but will need some help.  – Ann

Some photos are from a Sunday, January 18, 2015, workday with Ann and Jerry Hopkins and Sophia Cliffe.

Late January: We have had another work day, with Jerry, Sophia, and I mulching the rest of the, now, 10X40 ft. plot! In addition, we had a garden planning meeting with Jerry, Ann C., Sue, and Courtney. Sophia sent her ideas. Courtney put the plans on graph paper. Later, Jerry and I attended Sandy’s meeting, where we chose the monarch wing sign and worked on the plant choices with Chris and Kate. Can’t wait until Spring!! – Ann

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thanks to Chris, and her good directions, Ann C., Jerry, and I put the variety of milkweed roots in 3 areas about 3 ft. by 1 ft.  All composted a little and watered, buds facing up!  It was great that the director of Project Grows, Ryan, was there to show us the water source and talk about the drip irrigation plan and the deer fence, which will be put in by June. We met some of the other folks there, and I predict that they are going to be fun to work with.

Thanks, everyone for your hard work! I’m going to aim to get the stepping stones and tree stump seats and put them in Wed. or Thur. of next week, before my sheep start lambing. Ann C. said it would be easier to see where things should go with those in place and I agree.  – Ann


Noted wildflower photographer, Jerry Hopkins, captured the Harbinger of Spring, Spring Beauties, at Project Grows. While spring beauty is officially known as Claytonia virginica, these spring beauties are knows as Pollinator plantica, and include Ann Cline, Ann Murray and Chris Bowlen. They have demonstrated milkweed planting 101. Caption and photo credit: Jerry

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Borage is a superstar nectar plant for the bees.

Borage is a superstar nectar plant for bees. – Dave

It’s coming together!  Sue and I met today and installed stepping stones and tree stump seats. We dug up an area inside the stone circle and planted carrots, dill, parsley, fennel, and borage. We’ll be ready for the perennials Chris says we should put in next. Our group has spent more than 40 hours already on the garden. Hooray!  – Ann

Tuesday, April 27, 2015

Project Grows gardeners, Sue, Ann C. and Ann M. met and planted a few things last Thursday and noticed that the Milkweed is coming up! Yes, Jerry, there are lots of thistles coming up,too! The dill and the carrots are coming up. So far, no deer problems! We brought jelly beans for the friendly Project Grows young people, Sam and Jenna. – Ann

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Saturday, July 18, 2015

August 2015

The current plant list from Ann:

• Common milkweed
• violet
• butterfly weed
• coneflower
• yarrow
• Blanket flower
• Black-eyed Suasn
• Catmint
• Blue Dogbane
• Woodland Sunflower
• Obedient Plant
• Whorled Coreopsis (Tickseed)
• Beebalm
• New England Aster
• Sundrops
• Rattlesnake Master
• Borage
• Lovage
• Fennel
• Dill
• carrots
• Cosmos ( Jerry’s and Orange ones from Monet’s flower garden)
• Zinnias Benary’s Giant Mix, Profusion 5 color
• Columbine
• Larkspur, Giant Bluestar
• Bachelor’s Buttons
• Calendula, Pacific Beauty
• Shasta Daisy
• Alyssum, Royal carpet
• Lobelia, Crystal Palace
• Marigold, Lemon Drop
• Aster
• Verbena
• Sunflowers, Mexican, Maximillion, Dwarf Big Smile, Autumn Beauty, Moulin Rouge, Holiday, Zebulon ( note some sunflowers are now bred for cut flowers and have pollen-less varieties. I chose these from “Johnnies Select Seeds”. All have pollen! Our pollinators need it.

We also planted a pumpkin, remembering that pollinators like vegetable and fruit blossoms, too. The caterpillars use the dill, carrots, and fennel. Of all the flowers, we think the butterflies were most attracted to the red zinnias.