PUBLISHED: 9:38 AM on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
A hearty harvest
Juneau locals show off fruits of labor
Locals Steven and Bonnie Pennoyer are perusing the beautiful array of giant green zucchinis, voluptuous purple-striped garlic and rainbow-hued begonia and dahlia bouquets, and their expressions are quite pleased. While it's a cool, rainy day at the Community Garden's Harvest Fair, people still came out of the woodwork to marvel at the bountiful event's offerings.

"It's wonderful. Even when the weather is crummy, we always have a good time," said gardener Marilyn Helle, who was selling Garden memberships.

Photo by Abby LaForce
  Piper Robertson, 5, proudly displays a basket of freshly dug carrots during the Harvest Fair, which took place Saturday, August 25, at the Community Gardens. Robertson won first prize in the youth division for his harvest basket.
The Harvest Fair took place at the Community Gardens, located at 5669 Montana Creek Road on Saturday, August 25, with food sales beginning at 11 a.m. and ending around 2:30 p.m. People lined up for Deb Musell's buttermilk polenta muffins, sweet pepper relish and warm Southern chili, prepared with cranberry beans and smoked pork neck. It's a bean dish that was passed down in the family, said fellow gardener, Janice Fray.

Other treats donated by Garden members included hot dogs, bean dishes, fresh corn on the cob, blueberry muffins, brownies, Rice Krispy bars and drinks.

"We've been members of the Garden for over 10 years, and handling food and concession for the past four years-we all do our part," said member Joann Rieselbach.

The Community Garden dates back to 1993, giving members an opportunity to grow and harvest vegetables, fruit and flowers

The original organizers were so pleased with their results the first summer, they had a small fair at the garden that fall," said membership secretary Alan Davis. "It's been an annual event ever since, getting bigger and better."

A joint venture and fundraiser, the event came alive through Garden members, contributing their time, effort and products.

"The money raised at the fair goes to support projects at the garden, for example, the covered shelter where we hold the fair was built by the group about five years ago, paid for, in part, by money raised at these events. This fall we will need to put a new roof on the enclosed shed," Davis said.

With 130 plots, the variety is currently overflowing with Swiss chard, mustard greens, herbs, sweet peas, carrots, squash, potatoes, garlic and more.

The event included exhibits, ribbon awards, farmer's market and a money toss and "penny-in-the-haystack" activities for children.

"We opened at 11 (a.m.) and everything went fast. All the produce is from the member's garden plots: the proceeds go right back into the garden."

Prizes were awarded for vegetables with a category in largest and unusual, herbs, fruits, harvest baskets, flowers, prepared foods and garden plots.

"We had wonderful attendance. We had a lot of donations for the farmer's market. More than anything else, we're happy people show up and have a good time," Davis said.

The Juneau Community Garden is a non-profit organization that encourages gardening by providing a place for gardeners and would-be gardeners who don't have a yard or need additional space. The plots are 10 feet by 20 feet and cost $30 a year. Soil amendments and many tools are available for use at the garden; advice is free and readily available.

"We're so impressed with the gardeners-who wouldn't want to be a gardener!" said onlooker Nancy Seamount.