Build Gardens, Skills and Friendships

Sierra Harvest Volunteer Crew 2018
The end result of a long work day! L-R new garden owner Suzanne Bardsley, Volunteers Steve Danner, Suzanna Elkin, Christian Gutt and Larry Diminyatz front: Sierra Gardens Assistant Claudio Mendonca

It all starts so innocently. Someone out there has some time to spare and wants to do a little good in the community. They happen upon Sierra Harvest and something resonates with them. They start volunteering. And then something really clicks.

This is what has happened with the Sierra Gardens volunteer crew. We have a large cast of folks who help with builds, and all bring various skills and enthusiasm and energy to the garden. New volunteers contact Sierra Harvest all the time wanting to help out with garden builds, and it is always my pleasure and honor to welcome folks to a build. As a result, we are never lacking volunteers. I expected this. I have worked with volunteers for over 20 years in various capacities, and though I still marvel at the fact of it, I know that there are countless folks out there willing to give their precious time to an organization they feel is doing good work in the community, and do it with a strong level of commitment.

What I didn’t expect was how nicely a particular group of guys would click and become our core volunteer crew, making themselves available on an almost weekly basis for garden builds.

Larry building an arbor for a Sierra Garden 2018
Larry Diminyatz building an arbor for a Sierra Garden 2018

Larry Diminyatz, Matt Marquet and Christian Gutt all started volunteering in early 2017, and Steve Danner joined us a little later that year. I had been looking for some volunteers who had basic building skills, and what I got was an architect, a carpenter, a wood turner/carpenter, and an event producer who wanted to learn all of the above! This group of guys can definitely build a garden! More importantly, these guys are easy going, respectful, and loads of fun to work with.

Garden builds are never the same. I go in with a plan based on one visit, and sometimes unforeseen obstacles come up….there’s an existing irrigation line right where we need to dig a posthole, or a tree root that no human can hack through, or the client has changed their mind and wants something a little different. This crew can roll with it…they can problem solve and work cooperatively to make a task happen. At this point they are a well oiled machine….once we get to a site and go over the general plan, they get right to work doing the layout, digging and setting posts, stretching fence, etc. Larry the Architect has become our master gate builder, and has even had the opportunity to create some beautiful arbors for clients. Sometimes this is unplanned, and done largely with materials found on site. The result is always amazing, and our Sierra Gardens clients seem to agree.

I am eternally grateful to this 5 star volunteer crew, not to mention all the other volunteers who join us on builds, who are too many to mention but definitely not overlooked! In the words of Larry Diminyatz, “it sounded like a great community oriented volunteer effort and it’s turned out to be exactly that.”

Come join our crew.which includes myself and Sierra Gardens Assistant, Claudio Mendonca…I  promise a little bit of hard work and a whole lot of fun! 

Edy Cassell, Sierra Gardens Program Director

Chris, Larry, Matt and Jack building a Sierra Garden 2018
L-R volunteers Christian Gutt, Larry Diminyatz, Matt Marquet and Jack Kuehn building a Sierra Garden, 2018