The 2015 Branching Out travel project in New York at Val Kill National Historical Park was a complete success! It was an honor to work at the great Eleanor Roosevelt’s home , Val Kill, named after a stream where she and her family picnicked. Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, changed the role of First Lady through her active participation in American politics.
Val Kill was a 4 hour ride from Boston to New York. After arrival we watched a video about Eleanor Roosevelt and took a tour around the park gardens and landscapes. My group consisting of Marcus, Shreena, Gabriel, Uriah, and John lead by our Technical Expert Anna made up the maintenance group for the week. Over the course of the week we worked in the vegetable garden and on multiple projects around the Park. The vegetable garden was clean, beautiful and well taken care of with lots of potatoes, carrots, radishes, beets, tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, and one pumpkin plant.
The team staked plants, fertilized, weeded, the most fun thing we did was harvesting the vegetables. When we finished our work in the garden we pruned back some forsythia that was weeping into the path, mulched beds and mowed grass. Val Kill has many volunteers, mostly retired people who come every Wednesday to help out in the garden. Marcus and I had the opportunity to work with and interviewed a volunteer named Greg, an art teacher who was very good with carpentry. Greg helped us set up symmetrical “F” shaped trellises that he made based on historical photos of the gardens. Greg used white oak so the trellises would weather and turn the same shade as the planting beds. Marcus and I got to use a level and drill to put up the trellises and even though it was one of the hottest/ sunniest days I still think it was fun. We worked on a few more maintenance projects throughout the Park such as weeding, pruning, mulching, picking flowers and making bouquets, cutting small trees down and pulling up the root balls. The week was a great success and as Uriah the supervisor said we got a lot done. Thank you Anna for all your help! The teach back went well and we had a big turn out with staff from the Mather High School, park staff and a few park volunteers. Having the Mather students Memo, Manny, and John join us the whole week was great, we all got along really well and had fun playing sports after work hours. In total the trip was fun and I’m pretty sure everyone loved it even though it was a bit hot out at some times. Thanks for another great Travel Project!