The following was submitted to the River Valley Area Community Gardens Annual Meeting on December 8, 2023.
The River Valley Area Community Gardens Inc. has successfully completed its 8th growing season. The RVACG is designated as a 501c4 non-profit organization by the IRS.
There were 38 Gardeners in 52 plots compared to 45 gardeners in 84 garden plots in 2022 and 30 gardeners in 44 plots in 2021. Breaking it down by size, there were 8 gardeners renting10 x 10 plots, 10 gardeners rented 10 x 20 plots, and 18 gardeners rented 34 of the 20 x 20 plots. There were 2 gardeners renting elevated garden beds.
Two Board members resigned due to moving out of state. We replaced one board member and had one vacancy. At the December meeting we filled the vacancy and added two more members to bring the Board total to 11 members. Officers are President, Rose Ellen Schneider; Vice President, Doug Rouse; Secretary, Kelly Miller, and Treasurer, Melissa Hildebrandt.
Tasks force teams were organized to help distribute the work load of garden tasks including maintenance.
There was a large turnout for our Pre-Season meeting / work day in May.
The veggie kiosk and INFO mail box were painted.
Most of the trellis fencing bordering the perennial flower beds was removed to make weeding and maintenance easier.
A successful fund raising year included 4 brat fries at Prems between June and September; the Ice cream stand at the Spring Green Art Fair; 3 Culvers Share Nights; and a caramel apple sale at the RV School Fair.
As 2023 ends, all permits are in place, with site and construction plans approved for the building of our new equipment shed. Construction will start in the Spring/Summer of 2024.
For help and support in various ways, we want to thank Jim and Caryl Sprecher, Jerome Sprecher, the Spring Green Art Fair Committee, Cardinal IG, Peoples Community Bank, Doerre Hardware, TriCounty Building Supply, Red Barn Catering, the Spring Green Community Church, Spring Green Community Library, WRCO radio, the Weekly Home News, Valley Sentinel, Hometown Supermarket, Oakwood Fruit Farm, Prems Meats, Culvers of Spring Green, Wendy Crary, Vikki Stingley, and Adam Reno at the Village Office. For support of the Busy Bees Garden Club, we would like to thank Emily Whitmore, Culvers of Spring Green and Subway.
Gardener Emily Martonaro presented a Planning Your Garden workshop at the Spring Green Community Library on Saturday, March 18. Doug Rouse demonstrated gardening basics in the spring. A follow-up to the Gardening Planning workshop with an Open House was held in August. All educational opportunities were open to the public
Youth Gardener Programs
Our Junior Gardener program had 9 children in grades 3 through 12 compared to 6 in 2022 and 3 in 2021. 8 Junior Gardeners had 10 x 10 plots and 1 had a 10 x 20 plot.
Our Busy Bees Garden Club had 27 children ages 3 through grade 4 in 14 2 ft x 8 ft raised beds compared to 26 children ages 3 through grade 4 in 12 raised garden beds in 2022 and 16 students in 2021. The program ran Tuesday mornings from June 7 to Aug 9 from 9:15 to 10:15. Students were to care for their plots between weekly sessions and then until harvest was complete or frost after the program ended.
The RVACG is committed to help alleviate food scarcity in the River Valley area. We donated the following
Spring Green Food Pantry 1621.9 lbs In 2022, the recorded donation was 896.9 lbs
Meadows Assisted Living 216.5 lbs No records kept for 2022
Kiosk on site 265 lbs No records kept for 2022
Total donation of produce is 2,103.4 lbs.
In 2023, more of the donations were weighed as they were distributed.
The RVACG Facebook page continues to grow. As of Dec. 31, it had 602 followers. 82 percent are women and 18 percent are men. 190 followers are from Spring Green, 33 followers are from Lone Rock. 33 followers are from Madison. 20 followers are from Arena. 14 followers are from Plain. The remainder are from all over the US and beyond.
The RVACG website had 1534 page views, 942 unique visits with an average of 1.5 page views per visit between January 1 through Dec. 6, 2023.
In June gardeners painted signs for each of their gardens. In September, we celebrated a successful season with a potluck with re-registration for 2024 and work day. The Annual Meeting was held in December with the Board providing snacks.
Looking forward to 2024
Registration for new gardeners is open.
A new equipment shed will be built and the Gardeners Shed moved.
Plans are being made to become more efficient and intentional in composting garden refuse.
More social and educational events are being discussed for the season. We are cosponsoring a Journaling in Nature class conducted by Kay Balink with participants using the Gardens as a source.
Plans are to continue getting volunteer task force work teams more organized to help with garden maintenance and other activities.
We are discussing the installation of a new RVACG Garden sign on Westmor St. in the near future.
Fund raising opportunities include several brat fries at Prems Meats, the ice cream stand at the Spring Green Art Fair, the caramel apple sale at the RV School Fair, and other opportunities that may arise with a possible activity in February.
Rose Ellen Schneider
Dec. 8, 2023
Wow! Busy 2 months!
What have we been doing?
Planting, Mulching, Weeding, Watering, Watering, Watering. Who would have believed that we would be in a draught this summer. The rain the last couple of days has really been a blessing. What a difference 3 inches of rain made. Now we wait for the weeds to grow again as the moisture and the expected summer heat will make things pop.
We also made name signs for our plots and enjoyed brats and a dessert afterwards.
We have 9 Junior Gardeners learning about gardening.
The Busy Bees program is heading into the last 3 weeks with the kiddos. Where did the summer go? Most of the Busy Bees are starting to harvest veggies from their gardens. They have had a great time learning about planting, soil, weeding, mulching, watering, and insects so far. They have enjoyed taste testing various veggies and fruit from the Gardens.
The kiosk on Westmor received a paint job and has already been a busy place with free perennial flowers and plants being placed there for rehoming. Last week gardeners started putting produce in the kiosk. Right now it has been zucchini and summer squash.
Monday July 17 will be our first delivery of produce to the Community Food Pantry of Spring Green.
Saturday July 15 is our first brat fry of the season out at Prems Meats on Hwy 14, Spring Green from 10 to around 2. The Ice Cream Stand at the Spring Green Art Fair brought in approximately $1600 for our shed construction.
Additional brat frys are scheduled for Aug. 19 and Sept. 23.
We have added several Culvers Share Nights at the Spring Green Culvers on July 27, Aug. 10 and Sept. 12 from 4 to 8 pm
And, our traditional Caramel Apple Sale will be held again at the RV School Fair on Oct. 6 from 830 to noon.
New Equipment Shed Construction: Construction was placed on hold because we came up a bit short on money. Hence additional fund raisers have been planned. We hope to begin construction this fall. We have been fortunate in that we have received donations of materials which will cut our costs.
Open House at the Gardens will be Tuesday Aug 1. Stop over and see what we have been doing.
Saturday May 20 Garden Basics Demonstration
Doug explained all the basics of garden prep, tilling or not tilling, planting, fertilizing, watering, and mulching. Even the experience gardeners learned some new things.
Sunday May 21 Busy Bees Meet and Greet
The Busy Bees and their families gathered to meet us, get questions answered, find their plots and do a bit of planting in anticipation of the program starting on June 6.
And all week gardeners were prepping, and planting and mulching.
Opening Day Pre-Season Meeting May 7, 2023
What a great way to start the 2023 gardening season!
Warm weather, light breeze and lots of wonderful people...Today was a day to catch up with old friends and for meeting new friends.
We took sometime to meet our new gardeners and introduce returning gardeners. We talked about community, working together, sharing knowledge and tricks or short-cuts.
We reviewed the Gardeners Guidelines and asked questions for clarification and shared some tips to getting started in our plots before planting. Thanks Barb for the treats we enjoyed during and after the meeting.
Afterwards, some spent some time planning their garden plot.
New Gardeners toured the Gardens and found their plots. Returning Gardeners spent some time getting the Gardens ready for the season...distributing hoses, digging hills for potato planting, mulching the black and the red raspberry patches and native shrubs.
Then it was time to work in our own plots.
The clouds came in and we finished our day with a nice breeze and a few sprinkles
Below is a message sent recently to our Friends on our email list. If you would like to be on our list, please message your email address to email@example.com
Greetings Friends of River Valley Area Community Gardens ,
As I write this snow is falling with 2 to 5 inches forecast BUT Spring is coming. Activity surrounding the Gardens is picking up.
Plot Rental: Applications for garden plots have started. We have a number of plots open for this coming season. If you or someone you know is interested in gardening, we have printed applications in the INFO Mailbox on Westmor St at the Gardens. Applications may also be downloaded from our website at rvacg.org or requested via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 608-588-6040.
WRCO Radio interview: Gardeners Doug, Marlon and Rose Ellen will be visiting with Phil Nee on WRCO's Morning Show on Tuesday March 14 at 9:05. WRCO is located at 100.9 FM
Garden Planning Workshop: The RVACG and the Spring Green Community Library are sponsoring a free Garden Planning Workshop on Saturday March 18 from 1 to 3 pm. There will be lots of time to ask questions and plan your garden for the coming season. This workshop is appropriate for new and experienced gardeners. More garden related workshops are being planned for spring and summer.
Shed Plans Approved: At the March 8 meeting the Village Board approved the plans for our new equipment shed. We had raised close to $12,000 last year but the estimate for the building has come in higher than expected. We will be discussing possibilities at our upcoming Board meeting including designating all or part of our fundraising profits from this coming year for the shed.
Fundraising Dates: We have set several fundraising events for the coming year. Mark your calendar for the following dates:
June 24 and 25 - Ice cream stand at the Spring Green Art Fair approximately 10 to 4
July 15, August 19, and September 9 - Brat Frys at Prems Meats on Hwy 14 from 10 to 2
October 5 - Caramel Apple Sale, Local Night at the Post House Garden, 5 to 7 pm
October 6 - Caramel Apple Sale, RV School Fair at the RV Middle School, 8:30 - Noon
Youth Gardening: We believe in starting our youth in the garden as soon as they are interested.
Junior Gardeners: Our Junior Gardener program is for students in the River Valley School District in grades 5 through 12. They will receive a free 10 x 10 plot and a mentor to help them succeed with their plot for the summer. Applications are available on the Gardens website or may be requested at email@example.com
Busy Bees Garden Club: Our Busy Bees Garden Club is a curriculum and activity based program for children ages 3 through grade 4. Each child receives a 2 x 4 ft raised bed to grow veggies or flowers as they choose. Numbers are limited due to the amount of space and volunteer time. We are currently waiting to hear how many Busy Bees will be returning this summer before announcing how many raised beds we have available for the program. Children who apply after the raised beds are filled will be put on a waiting list for the next year and will be the first ones notified as beds become available. The program starts with a Meet and Greet on May 22 with the program starting with Planting Day on June 6 and running on Tuesday mornings from 915 to 1015 through Aug 1. This year we are planning a family picnic on Sunday Aug. 6.
Volunteers Needed: We are always looking for volunteers. Tasks are available for all skill levels from baking cookies or working our fundraisers, to helping plant, care for and harvest food pantry plots, to weeding our flower beds or helping with the youth gardening programs. If you are interested, let me know. I'll add you to our volunteer list.
More information about RVACG activities will be available later in the year. Follow us on Facebook or check our website rvacg.org. There is a calendar of events on the website.
See you soon.
Rose Ellen Schneider
RVACG is a 501c4 nonprofit and as such may accept donations but they may not be deductible from an individual's taxes.
As we look forward to the 2023 gardening season, the River Valley Area Community Gardens Board of Directors and Gardeners would like to thank the people of the River Valley area for your support. Whether you visited the Gardens, made a donation, or bought a spaghetti supper at the Shed, an ice cream cone at the Art Fair, a brat meal at one of our brat frys, a caramel apple at the RV School Fair, or a plant or two at our plant sales, we thank you.
For help and support in various ways, we want to thank
Jim and Caryl Sprecher,
the Spring Green Lions Club for sponsoring the Spaghetti Dinner for the benefit of our future equipment shed,
the Spring Green Art Fair Committee,
Peoples Community Bank,
TriCounty Building Supply,
the Spring Green Community Church
Spring Green Community Center,
The Weekly Home News,
Oakwood Fruit Farm,
Wendy Crary and Vikki Stingley at the Village Office,
For support of the Busy Bees Garden Club, we would like to thank the
Community Foundation of South Central Wisconsin for a $500 grant for raised beds,
West Madison Home Depot for additional financial help with the raised beds and
Culvers of Spring Green.
In 2022 we had 45 gardening families on 84 plots of various sizes. There were 6 participants in our Junior Gardener program for students in grades 4 through 12. There were 26 students age 3 through grade 4 who participated in our summer Busy Bees Garden Club.
We offered 5 gardening workshops open to the public including one on the development of a deep straw demonstration garden by Roger Reynolds. We donated 896 lbs. of produce to the Community Food Pantry of Spring Green with additional produce being donated to the Meadows Assisted Living facility and also placed in the kiosk on Westmor St. at the Gardens.
We are looking forward to an exciting 2023 as we build our new equipment shed and open more plots to gardeners.
Registration for the 2023 gardening season is now open. Applications are available on our website at rvacg.org, or request them via our Facebook page or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Phone requests may be made at 608-588-6040. Print copies are located in the INFO box on N. Westmor St at the Gardens.
We are also looking for volunteers to help with the food pantry plots and garden maintenance. If anyone would like to help, please contact us.
Please visit us this summer to take a walk through the Gardens or participate in our gardening workshops.
The RVACG Board of Directors
Rose Ellen Schneider President.
Part of the River Valley Area Community Gardens mission / goals is to provide educational opportunities to both our Gardeners and the community at large.
Our first opportunity for the 2022 growing season occurred on May 7 as Doug Rouse presented a demonstration of planting a vegetable garden. He shared many tips and gave practical advice as well as answered lots of questions from the gardeners.
Doug talked about both tilling and no-till gardening.
He demonstrated some of the techniques that he uses at the RVACG to plant both his plots and the Food Pantry plots that he manages.
He demonstrated a "quadruple dibble stick" which he had constructed. The dibble stick, a simple stick slightly larger than a seed, is used to poke holes in the soil to plant seeds. Doug wanted to do it faster so he attached 4 pointed ends to a scrap piece of 2 x 4 board.
Doug also talked about watering plants. He shared how he installs a drip irrigation system to get water directly to the roots of the plants rather than watering from the top down which my cause diseases and encourage pests if plants get too wet. It's important to know your soil type because different soils require different watering requirements. Sandy soils in hot weather require more than loam or clay soils. Doug demonstrated hooking drip strips to the irrigation header
One of the big crops grown in the Food Pantry plots is potatoes. Doug demonstrated using a potato planter. He talked about why it is advantagous to plant potatoes in hills to draw the water away from the tubers so they don't rot if the soil retains a lot of water. He talked about the importance of using seed potatoes instead of leftover potatoes from the supermarket as a means of preventing disease in the potato crop.
Most everyone likes carrots but it is hard to control the planting of the tiny seeds. Once the seedlings emerge, they have to be thinned to allow room for the carrots to grow. Doug demonstrated a device that he constructed to make planting tiny carrot seeds easier. He cut a piece of pvc pipe in half lengthwise. He spreads the carrot seeds out along the pipe. When the seeds are where he wants them, he carefully and gently flips the pipe upside down in the row that he has prepared for the carrots. Doug also said the seeds could be spread out over a damp paper towel or strong toilet paper. Paper should be folded over the seeds. Then the paper could be laid in the ground and covered.
Doug also talked about a device he constructed to plant seeds without having to crawl on the ground or bend over. He constructed the device out of a piece of pvc pipe and a common funnel. Prepare your row and drop the seed in the device to plant it. Then cover the seeds with dirt. He said that if the device was just poked into the ground without preparing a row, the pipe would plug up with dirt.
Mulching is important in a garden because it is a weed control and also shades the soil to prevent moisture from evaporating into the atmosphere. Weeds pull moisture and nutrients away from the veggie or flower plants causing them to be less productive. Doug demonstrated laying either multi-layed newspaper or cardboard covered with straw or marsh hay between the rows. It saves a lot of work weeding and the gardens require less water. As the materials decompose, they add nutrients back into the soil.
Doug also demonstrated the proper hoeing technique for weeding if someone wanted to manage weeds manually.
Doug answered some questions about pest and disease control. If you missed the planting tips demonstration this year, Doug will do it again next season.
Doug will do at least one Disease and Pest Garden Walk later in the season to identify problems and give advice on how to prevent or control pests and diseases on plants. The dates have yet to be determined. Watch the local media sources for an announcement. Check our events calendar on our website. Check our Facebook page for event dates.
Thank you to Doug for doing the demonstration. Thank you to those who attended and asked such wonderful questions.
The 2022 Gardening Season is starting.
Today was Gardener Orientation Day.
New Gardeners met at the Gardens at 1:30. We introduced ourselves, went over the Garden Guidelines, signed Gardening Agreements, and had questions answered.
Then we were off to find our plots
and tour the Gardens,
and inspect the Gardeners Shed.
Then we met up with the returning Gardeners, initiating the new shelter built last fall and enjoyed some cookies to warm us up.
Then all went home to warm up and plan our gardens and hope for warmer weather.
Great day on Saturday April 23. Weather was warm. The wind behaved itself. The rain stayed away.
And, many RV Area Community Gardeners, returning and new, and friends showed up to get the Gardens ready for the coming season.
Several dump runs for garden garbage. Mulching rhubarb. Cleaning up tape, cardboard, and stuff that blew in over the winter.
Pruned shrubs, dug shrubs, weeded berries, painted stakes for the plant sale.
Mulching and cleaning nursery beds, raking dirt on to the irrigation lines
AND, then there was the Busy Bees Garden.
What fun these youngsters had getting the new raised beds ready for their season and the parents enjoyed it too. Next time they are all together is the Meet and Greet on May 15 at 3:30. It will be fun to have 28 youngsters ages 3 through Grade 4 in the Busy Bees Garden this summer, planting and learning, and playing, and creating. We will also have at least 5 Junior Gardeners ages Grade 5 through Grade 12. Busy summer ahead.
It was so good to see people that we haven't seen since last fall and to meet new friends.
The next big gathering of Gardeners is Orientation on May 1. Looking forward to meeting all the new folks at 1:30 and seeing all the returning Gardeners at 2:15. The street will be even more full that afternoon.
Thank you to the Spring Green Lions for sponsoring the Spaghetti Dinner on March 1. Thank you to everyone who bought tickets, or made donations. Thank you to Mark and Wynn, Suki and all the other Shed employees who were involved in preparing the spaghetti dinner. It was declicious!
The Lions served 444 dinners that night.
We received a check for $3546.16. Several direct donations brought the profit up to nearly $3800. The money will be used to build a new equipment shed at the Gardens. Over halfway to our goal!
Members of the Gardens Board and Dinner helpers gathered at the Gardens recently to receive the donation from the Lions. Pictured are Wid, Don, SG Lions member Howard, Rose Ellen, Doug, Amy, Melissa and Barb.