Meet Avice, a PPL volunteer who has transformed her skill and passion for gardening into a volunteer opportunity that brings together communities and promotes a healthy lifestyle. In early May, Avice connected with PPL and began volunteering with residents at three PPL housing sites to set up and maintain raised garden beds throughout the growing season.
Growing up, Avice inherited a passion for gardening from her mother and two of her aunts. “I remember planting flowers in the dense woods of my camp when I was a little girl. I had no clue about sun requirements or the importance of soil quality and fertilization—these gardens did not hold up very well.” While Avice enjoys a wide variety of activities in her free time—traveling with her husband, training for a 50-mile bike ride benefit, playing tennis, exercising her Australian Shepherd—her true passion is gardening. “I spend a crazy amount of time in my gardens. If I’m not planting something, I’m weeding, watering, thinning, or researching.” With 16 years of experience as a certified master gardener, Avice provides the knowledge and experience to help residents with their gardening needs.
After learning about PPL through her friend, PPL board member Jan Dick, Avice made the connection that her gardening skill-set and knowledge would be a natural service to provide for PPL’s housing complexes. With Avice’s guidance, residents are able to clear the gardens of weeds, add soil enhancers and fertilizer, and plant seeds and/or whole plants depending on what works best for that community. The residents and Avice made sure to plant things that would not take too long to mature so that they could enjoy harvesting as soon as possible. Lettuce, kale, and broccoli were some of the various plants already available by mid-June for residents to harvest. They also took time to plant flowers in bare spots of the garden, including mammoth sunflowers which Avice believes will be particularly fun for the children. “I feel like gardening is magical. To take a seed and grow it into a plant to eat or simply enjoy its beauty is a miracle.”
Avice has made a difference with PPL residents by providing them with the opportunity to learn more about the science and art of gardening as well as the capacity to carry out projects alongside a skilled professional. Through her volunteer role, Avice works to demonstrate benefits of a healthy lifestyle such as the exercise you can get while gardening and the enjoyment of eating fresh vegetables. Some of the herbs and vegetables they planted were new to the residents, so she also hopes that this gives residents the opportunity to learn more about how to incorporate these vegetables into their diets and have fun with them. “The most rewarding moments have been when I see the enthusiasm of the families putting in gardens with the help of their children. It really becomes a community effort and I love being a part of that.”
Do you have a skill you’d like to share as a PPL volunteer? Contact Volunteer Program Manager Julie Huck to find out how you can get involved.