Christy Belvin - Diving For Donations

A Master Gardener Volunteer Profile
Christy Belvin

As with most Master Gardeners (MGs), there’s a story behind how they got into gardening. For Christy Belvin it began as a youngster. Growing up in Danbury, Connecticut, her family shared a vegetable garden with an elderly man, from Maine.  He introduced them “to growing potatoes and the treasure of diving for hidden potatoes.”

Now Christy is diving again, not for potatoes, but for donations for the silent auction to be held at the N.H. Master Gardener Alumni Association’s (NHMGAA) Spring Symposium on March 21. She has been the Silent Auction Coordinator for five years. Once again, Christy is seeking items for the auction. The proceeds support NHMGAA special project grants.

Christy has lived in Amherst, N.H., with her husband Bill since 1968. Their house has a small, shady yard, but there is a large meadow nearby. With permission from the meadow owner, the Belvins and some friends cultivated the plot for a few years. Hardships, such as no direct water source and pests made gardening a challenge. “We battled woodchucks intent on eating our greens,” she recounts, with humor, “and raccoons that instinctively knew the corn was ready the night before we were going to pick it.”

Upon retiring from the banking field in 2000, Christy became a MG and joined the Amherst Garden Club. “What could be more fun and satisfying than digging in the dirt with new friends and volunteering for various Master Gardener projects?”  With improved gardening skills, over the years she found it has been rewarding to be part of a significant evolution towards environmentally sound cultivation and pest management methods.

For many years, Christy served on the Special Projects Committee led by Martha Coutts-Eisenberg. They solicited and evaluated proposals for statewide MG gardening projects. “We can all be so proud of the innovative projects so many Master Gardeners have led throughout New Hampshire,” she said, naming among the projects, community garden produce donated to a food pantries or soup kitchens, restoring historic and public gardens, and creating school gardens with participation from the students and teachers.

The first silent auction in 2005 was chaired by MGs Ann Ury and Paige Gibson, and later by Mary Salmon.  In 2015, former silent auction chair Cathy Winkowski recruited Christy to replace her. In 15 years, $30,000 has been raised from garden-themed items such as tools, books, plants, gift cards and decorative objects.

Auction items can be donated until March 10, but sooner is better. Christy has found that once someone has donated to the auction, they are on the hunt for future pieces at yard sales, gift shops, craft fairs and garden centers. People start to have “aha” moments: “Hey, there’s something that would be perfect for the silent auction!” If you have an item for the auction, contact Christy. Christy Belvin, P.O. Box 27, 231 Boston Post Rd., Amherst, NH 03031 603-801-9381 and bcbelvin@aol.com

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 answers@unh.edu.