UACC: Celebrating Twelve Years of Growing

Posted by on Nov 21, 2019 | Comments Off on UACC: Celebrating Twelve Years of Growing

UACC: Celebrating Twelve Years of Growing

The farming life is fraught with uncertainty about the weather. On the Saturday before UACC’s Fall Garden Gathering, the temperature struggled to reach a chilly 45 degrees before dropping back below freezing. But then just like that, Sunday arrived with sunny skies and an almost balmy 66 degrees. The day grew brighter still with the laughter of children skirting about the big tent set up for the event, a day bookended by cheerful greetings and bittersweet memories.

 It was the end of an era at Friendship Court. After 12 years of working side-by-side with community members to grow and share healthy food, UACC put its flagship garden to bed for the last time. Next Spring, instead of kale and collards, new housing will rise out of the rich soil nurtured for so many years by former Farmer Todd, now with the Office of Human Rights, and UACC’s Farm Manager, Jennifer Minor.

Sunday’s celebration had the look and feel of a family reunion with long-time founder and supporter, Karen Waters-Wicks in attendance. She was accompanied by current and former UACC Board members, advisors, volunteers, donors, and well-wishers. As music blared and old friends caught up, children swarmed the face painting station, took turns swinging at a piñata,  and helped paint a mural that will adorn UACC’s remaining 6th Street garden next Spring. In the garden, a dedicated crew led by Farmer Todd and Shannon Gaffey, Garden Coordinator at Buford Middle School, dug up blueberry plants for attendees to replant in their home and school gardens.

UACC Program Director, Farmer Rich, kicked off the day’s program with a presentation of awards to long-time supporters spanning the last 12 years of the garden’s history. Recipients included Audrey Oliver with the Public Housing Association of Residents and the Market Day Volunteers, a team of six amazing women who collectively have staffed the Friday Market Days for more than a decade. After the presentations, attendees sat down to a comforting Sunday meal and shared stories from the past and hope for the future.

In the waning light of a November day as people drifted back to their homes and their lives, the mood was buoyant with optimism about the future of the gardens. Next year, as the seasons follow their inevitable course, blueberries, bush cherries, and gooseberries from Friendship Court will flourish in homes and schools around Charlottesville and beyond. And like the long-term future of the UACC gardens themselves, of that there was great certainty.