Resident ready to enrich area with farmer’s market

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 10, 2009

When it was announced that Helena was seeking interested committee members for the Buy Fresh, Buy Local Farmer’s Market that will begin in May, Jan Holiday was enthused and volunteered.

Jan brings hands-on gardening expertise, as a visit around her four–acre yard will attest.

Jan and husband Charlie, who moved to the Riverwoods area in 2004, have created a naturalized haven backing up to the winding creek that skirts the property.

“Our back yard was just one big blackberry thicket,” Jan said. “And we have been working like trolls, installing every plant and shrub you see.”

From the marshy bog lowlands to the perimeters of the house, they have carved out beds, some bordered with river rock, which are now filled with a proliferation of hydrangeas, ferns, hosts, heirloom roses, herbs and any unusual plants, such as bronze fennel, that have caught Jan’s eye.

As former garden–coordinator for a non-profit organization, she is an active volunteer at Aldridge Gardens and a member of the Hydrangea Society of Alabama. With close to 75 hydrangeas now in her yard, Jan recommends, “for sun and drought tolerance, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ with its showy pale lime flowers.”

She also favors the oakleaf Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ellen Huff’ and the dependable and late-blooming (up to September) paniculata ‘Tardiva.’

Jan hosts workshops at Aldridge Gardens to teach children about vermiculture or composting with red wiggler worms.

“We have a soil session and a worm session, and the children learn to compost at home using a tub. The dads who like to fish get ideas of their own when they see this project,” Jan said.

The Holidays have two large vinyl bins requiring little maintenance that turn kitchen waste and coffee grounds into usable compost every few months via the cold method.

“There is nothing like worm poop for rich soil,” she said.

Charlie’s orchard of apple, pear, persimmon and fig trees are down the hill from the blueberry bushes. They also have an indoor/outdoor Meyer Lemon tree that produced enough lemons this winter to enjoy in homemade desserts.

“I envision the farmer’s market as a Saturday morning gathering place to meet your neighbors and network with the farmers,” Jan said. “I am thrilled to have a source for local fresh produce nearby.”

Jan adds she would like to see a local garden club or an organized community garden develop in this area.