The end of the service year is an especially exciting time at Volunteer Maryland because we get to look back in wonder at the amazing accomplishments of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. One VMC who has done extraordinary work is Kristen Wharton, who has served at the Chesapeake Arts and Research Society (CHEARS) in partnership with the Greenbelt Public Works Department. As the name indicates, CHEARS has a broad, wide-ranging mission, which is “dedicated to the health of all who share the Chesapeake watershed environment.” Kristen has supported CHEARS work in myriad ways, one of which is developing and sustaining a volunteer program for the Three Sisters Demonstration Gardens.
Last Friday, after our final regional meeting (sad face), Kelly MacBride-Gill and I had the privilege of touring two of these gardens with Kristen (the deluge kept us from seeing the third — so, more sad face). What we did see was remarkable. CHEARS partnered with the Greenbelt Community Foundation back in 2010 to establish three demonstration gardens in each of the three major geographic areas of Greenbelt (center, east and west). According to CHEARS, “the Gardens continue to offer fun, outdoor spaces that demonstrate sustainable growing practices and healthy food options for a healthier watershed. Aided by permaculture principles, we can significantly reduce urban and suburban run off by changing our dominant lawn-based monoculture form of landscaping.”
That is pretty much a very intelligent way of saying that these gardens are WAY COOL. Each one has its own vibe, but all have a section in which corn, beans, and squash are grown together, and each features a lovely combintation stunning sunflowers, beautiful perennials and annuals, as well as an array of vegetables, fruits, nuts and herbs. Kristen’s work has ensured that there is and will continue to be a steady stream of community volunteers to maintain these gardens and support the educational and recreational programs that take place in them.
Way to Kristen, Greenbelt, CHEARS and Volunteer Maryland!