Garden volunteers gearing up for festival

You can almost feel it in the air, and the anticipation is exciting – autumn bringing its glorious display of colors in the trees, fall flowers, the mums dressed in bright and beautiful colors, apples, peaches, pumpkins … and  Vandalia’s Little Community Garden Fall Festival, their only fundraiser for gardening “needs & seeds.”

An Early Morning Visit…
…to the garden last week found some of the gardeners already at work, and anticipating this year’s festival.   
The workers on hand stopped long enough to meet with us on the little brick patio under a shade tree and enjoyed Jennie Grimsley’s brewed coffee and one of her made-from-scratch sweet delicacies, which she said contained two vegetables and one fruit, which made it also a product of the garden.  
Throughout the garden, many of the green, healthy looking plants are already bearing fresh produce, berry bushes, herbs, etc. And in the midst all of this natural and appetizing food, are flowers of different varieties with blooms of many colors and shapes.
One special bloom is atop the lilac tall bush, which, according to the gardeners, had hardly bloomed over the years, and lilacs typically bloom in the early spring, when mushrooms are being found.
There are several blooms on the bush, with the one sitting on the very top like a star on a Christmas tree.
How did this garden grow?
With lots of tender loving care by work-worn, but loving hands that love to bring healthy and pretty plants up from the seeds, keep the ground free of weeds and destructive insects, nourish and water them, and watch the miracle of their growth.
In addition to planting their usual vegetables, they also try new varieties, such as the new salad tomatoes they grew this year, described as a tiny red tomato with stripes.
They also followed friend Margaret Carroll’s tip to mix in epsom salts when planting or watering the plants.
Volunteers Always Needed
Volunteers are needed to help with the garden, whether you be a seasoned, experienced gardener or someone who just enjoys working outside and is willing to do whatever is needed.
There are nine Master Gardeners – Jennie Grimsley, Pam Yates, Thais Ledbetter, Terri Braun, Gina Welbourne, Randy Harrison, Carrie Hill and Sid File, and Joan Clayton (honorary).
Volunteers are indispensable and necessary to maintain the garden as needed. They include Fran Collier, Deb Durbin, Carol Haas, Ginny Matzker, Nori Pruitt, Tom File, Cheryl Sasse, Jackie DuPlayee, Jake Harris, Merle Adermann and Mary Ann DuPlayee.
Several children were volunteers this year: Bently Welbourne; Harrison and Fred  Towler; Chandler Sasse; Dallas Patterson; Sydnee, Preston and Kendall Nestrick; and Faith, Christian and Justice DePlayee.
There was quite a lot of damage done by storms this year, and volunteer Merle Adermann cleared much of the tree limbs and debris away, helped by Tom File, who mows and keeps the area neat.
Children Volunteers are Appreciated …
… and the Little Community Garden volunteers worked with the YMCA Healthy Kids Day, Kaskaskia College gardening program for children, U of I Extension and Farm Bureau’s Home-Schooled Program.
Harvest Festival
Vandalia’s Little Community Garden Harvest Festival will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Mother of Dolors Parish Center, 705 W. St. Clair St. in Vandalia.
This is a fundraiser for the garden, which is a non-profit group and supplies the community with fresh produce, free of charge, as well as working with children.
• Garden goods that will be available include fresh produce-herbs, pumpkins and gourds; homemade jams and jellies, canned goods; bittersweet and cockscomb; trees and shrubs for fall planting; and perennials, hardy mums and fresh-cut flowers.
• The lunch menu includes pulled pork barbecue, chips and pickle-$5; hot dog and chips-$2; apple crisp-$1; jalapeno peppers-six for $5; and cider, cookies and one Jalapeno pepper-free.
• Fun for the Kids – Vandalis Soroptimists’ “Build A Scarecrow” and Fayette County 4-H children’s activity booth
• More than 25 vendors.

Community Garden volunteers Pam Yates, Sid File and Jennie Grimsely are pictured at the garden.

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