If you happened to be in Franconia last summer on a late July morning, you might have encountered Master Gardener Kathie Lovett working at “Garden Buddies: Promoting Healthy Communities.” Located behind the Town Hall in Franconia, this small vegetable garden is a joint project of the UNH Extension Master Gardeners and Adaptive Sports Partners, Franconia. It is led by a trio of gardeners, of whom Kathie is one.
“Garden Buddies” serves a small group of developmentally disabled adults, who participate in the planting, tending, and harvesting of vegetables throughout the summer and who take home whatever the garden yields. The team assists members of the group with tasks from laying out, planting, and mulching the garden to installing fencing and supports, watering, and even warding off the critters who sometimes have the nerve to feast on the produce. The vegetables run the gamut: radishes early in the season, carrots and tomatoes in mid-season, and corn and winter squash in late season. In late July, tall sunflowers dominate the vegetable patch.
Kathie has been a Master Gardener since 2002, when she took the training in Concord. Her first project was a rolling garden cart that she took to bedridden patients at a nursing home. She also gave a weekly talk at the nursing home, “What’s in Bloom this Week?”
Kathie is an enthusiastic gardener and also an artist. Her paintings are often exhibited in the area and she embraces an active life beyond gardening. For thirty years, she was the co-owner of the Littleton Bookshop, remembered for its remarkable selection of books and even more remarkable selection of toys, children’s books and music. She is a long-time resident of the North Country and is currently active in promoting the creative community in northern New Hampshire. On her website, Kathie describes herself as a “painter, printer, and possibilitarian.”
“Possibilitarian” certainly fits her role at Garden Buddies. If you were at the garden on a work day, you would have seen everyone at work, contributing in a kind of dance. In fact, a video that she has made is a dance in celebration of the joy that this group creates gardening together.
After several hours of work, bending and moving in the warm summer, folks get both thirsty and hungry, so they pause for a rest in the shade, and enjoy refreshments. Kathie and the leadership team provide these as well, relying on herbs and vegetables from the garden as much as possible and offering a way to support healthy eating and try new foods. The day that I visited, there was fabulous spread, made with local goat cheese mixed with basil and a touch of maple syrup on crackers. And there was Kathie’s own special brew, known as “Kathie Tea.” A wonderful selection of vegetable jokes provides entertainment during the snack (“Show me a pickle and I’ll show you a real killer diller!). Master Gardener Kathie Lovett contributes a great deal of knowledge, talent and inspiration to this project.
UNH Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers share information about home, yard, and garden topics with the people of New Hampshire. Got questions? Master Gardeners provide practical help finding answers to your questions through the Ask UNH Extension Infoline. Call toll free at 1-877-398-4769, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.