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Abby's Garden

The Abby Ayers Community Garden, known as Abby’s Garden, was founded in 2009 thanks to the efforts of President Emeritus Edward Ayer’s wife and a group of dedicated staff. Since its creation, the garden has brought together students, faculty, and staff to grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. In 2020, Abby’s Garden was renovated and expanded as part of the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor construction. The garden now includes 32 raised beds of 3 different sizes, a covered picnic pavilion, 3 new water hydrants, and a community tool shed. U-shaped keyhole beds, firm mulch paths, and direct proximity to the main paved Eco-Corridor path make the area more accessible for gardeners using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. View a layout of the new and improved garden.

Since its founding, Abby’s Garden has adhered to organic practices. To help support a healthy ecosystem and to reduce residue on produce, no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used. Sticking to organic practices helps protect the health of our gardeners and our surrounding environment. Beyond environmental health, digging in the dirt can also help reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing!

There are 28 beds available to any member of the University of Richmond campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. Basic tools for gardeners, including hand tools, gloves, rakes, and shovels, are all available for shared use and are stored in our newly constructed tool shed. A committee of faculty, staff, and students oversee the garden and facilitate the lottery process each spring. 

If you have any questions about Abby's Garden, please email the Office for Sustainability’s Community Garden Intern, Kate Sjovold, at kate.sjovold@richmond.edu

Garden Guidelines

- All gardeners must attend an orientation session and sign the garden pledge prior to gardening. More detailed expectations/guidelines will be given to gardeners during orientation.

- Gardeners are expected to assist on garden clean-up days

- Please close the front and back gates to help keep deer out of the garden

- Return all tools to the tool shed after use (please wipe down tools and put dirty gloves into the correct bin)

- Turn off water spigots and return hoses after watering

- Only organic fertilizers may be used. Compost is available for shared use!

- Flowers, vegetables, herbs, and other annuals can all be grown in your garden! Have fun with it and get to know your fellow gardeners!

Maintaining Your Plot

- The garden has 3 plot sizes: 2x3’s, 4x8’s, and keyhole plots (48 square feet)

- The garden receives about 8 hours of direct sunlight daily, sufficient for vegetable gardening.

- Each plot has access to a water spigot with a hose and gardeners are responsible for watering their own plots.

- Gardeners are expected to provide their own seeds and/or transplants and any tools/supplies beyond the shared tools in the shed.

- Gardeners are expected to maintain their plots for the full growing season.

- Helping with general upkeep is also expected (ie: clean-up days).

Accessing the Garden

- The garden is located near the start of the Eco-Corridor.

- The garden is limited to garden participants during the growing season.

- Participants have access to the garden all days of the week during daylight hours.

Gardening Resources

Ordering Seeds

- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Virginia-based)

- Seed Savers Exchange (Heirloom seeds)

- Johnny’s Seeds

Growing Guides

- Southern Exposure Growing Guides (overviews + lots of resources)

- Virginia Home Vegetable Gardening Guide (great overview!)

- Vegetable Planting Guide for Virginia (hardiness zones, planting and harvesting dates)

Abby's Garden Committee Members

- Marge Musial: Telecommunications Service Representitive, Campus Telecommunications  
- Theresa Keefe: Administrative Assistant, SPCS Administration
- Anne Holdaway: Major Gift Officer, Office of Major Gifts 
- Mike Torquato: Landscape Services Manager, University Facilities  
- Rob Andrejewski: Director of Sustainability, Office for Sustainability
- Kate Sjovold '21: Biodiversity and Community Garden Intern, Office for Sustainability