It takes some helping hands to maintain the historical plants at the Hibbs House Kitchen Garden and share its harvest with the community. Joanna McClintock shares her experience as a garden volunteer.
“My husband and I wanted to retire in a Bucks County town near the Delaware and be closer to our grandkids who live in Pennington, NJ, so we chose Washington Crossing. I always admired the view of the park as I drove back across ‘the skinny bridge’ and thought maybe there was something I could do there to volunteer and get involved in the community. I stopped by the visitor center to ask if they needed help, specifically with gardening because I’ve always had an interest in gardening. I like to get my hands in the dirt.
Anna, the historical horticulturalist, reached out to me and invited me to meet her at the garden at the Hibbs House. We talked as I helped her do some weeding. Little did I know, it was a bit of a test of my gardening skills! We got along well, and I’ve been volunteering with her once a week for about 3.5 years.
I help with whatever they need but it’s mostly weeding and planting. The farm manager, Ross, frequently comes to help with the heavy-duty tasks like hauling rocks. Anna and Ross are nice, knowledgeable people and our friendship has really blossomed.
Right now we’re working to keep the garden healthy and preserve as much as we can while the Hibbs House is under renovation. This year I learned a lot from Anna as I helped prepare for and worked the table at McConkey’s Market. I learned how to harvest from the garden and how to make certain medicinal and food items, such as a poultice for sunburn and a strawberry/rhubarb shrub, which we sold at the market. It was really fun to connect with people and offer them special items that came from the garden. Also, all proceeds go directly back to the park.
There is so much I enjoy about volunteering at the park like working in such a beautiful location along the river, interacting with visitors who wander by, staying active, making a difference in my community, applying my gardening knowledge, and learning new things about gardening along the way. I also appreciate the flexibility.
I would tell anyone interested in volunteering to assess their talents and then look around to see how they might use those talents to help. And if you’re not sure, ask what might be needed. There’s a wide variety of things to do at the park – both inside and out – so don’t be hesitant to reach out and see where you might be a good fit.”
To learn more about volunteering at Washington Crossing Historic Park visit: https://www.washingtoncrossingpark.org/about/volunteer/.