Common on those New Year’s resolutions lists are more exercise, volunteering and learning a new skill or hobby. Volunteers with the Charleston Parks Conservancy’s Garden in the Parks program can easily check those three resolutions off their list.
The Conservancy is seeking new volunteers to garden in Charleston’s public parks. Volunteer tasks include planting flowers and shrubs, pruning, weeding, mulching and watering, depending on the season. Interested volunteers can fill out a form at www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/volunteer.
To date in 2019, 70 volunteers have worked in more than a dozen parks around Charleston for a total of almost 2,000 volunteer hours. Garden in the Parks volunteers are part of the Conservancy’s Park Angel program. Volunteers help with fundraisers, community events, outreach and the community garden program. The Conservancy’s large volunteer base enables the organization to renovate, improve and maintain about 25 parks in the City of Charleston.
Garden in the Parks volunteers accounted for about 25% of the Conservancy’s total volunteer hours in 2019. That support value equates to about $50,000.
“We are continually grateful to the volunteers who help us garden in the parks,” said Rachel Barry, volunteer manager. “There is no way we could take on projects like Colonial Lake or the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park without the support of our incredible volunteer Park Angels.
“Our volunteers really benefit as well. They gain valuable gardening skills and knowledge while enjoying the fresh air and getting some exercise,” she added. “Plus, many of our volunteers have forged deep friendships with fellow volunteers.”
Volunteers can work as much or as little as their schedule allows. No gardening experience is needed. One of the Conservancy’s professional horticulturists is on hand to provide instruction and guidance, giving volunteers the opportunity to learn about how to care for the plants in their own yards and home gardens.
Volunteer Kathleen Gunning said, “I’ve really enjoyed the free garden education. The horticulturalists are always gracious about answering any questions about plants and gardens. They have helped me identify plants and problems with a photo from my iPhone.”
Volunteer teams generally work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. One group works at Colonial Lake and another team travels to various other parks such as Marion Square, Hampton Park and Tiedemann Park. Joining the traveling team is a great way to learn more about the city and its park system.
“When I’m gardening I’m in my happy place,” said volunteer Jessie Bleichamn. “I really volunteer for selfish reasons. It’s just so I can exercise, get fresh air, and garden.”
Long-time volunteer Michael Master added, “The Conservancy attracts some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And you'll make Charleston a nicer place to live, work and play.”
For more than 10 years, the Conservancy -- through public-private partnerships -- has had a hand in renovating and beautifying more than 25 parks in the City of Charleston. Notable projects include the complete renovation of Colonial Lake, the renovation of the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park as well as Allan Park, Wragg Square, McMahon Playground at Hampton Park, Magnolia Park and Community Garden, Marion Square, and Medway Park and Community Garden.