Good Old Fashioned Help

Colonial Williamsburg donates vegetables grown using 18th-century gardening techniques.

With the temporary closing of Colonial Williamsburg Resorts due to the pandemic, historic gardener Eve Otmar turned a problem into a solution.

Otmar is part of a team that grows vegetables, fruit, and herbs throughout Colonial Williamsburg, both to demonstrate 18th-century gardening techniques and for use in the resort’s kitchens. Since March, the prolific gardens have been producing winter and early spring greens and vegetables that needed to be harvested and used promptly. Instead of letting it go to waste, Otmar and her team have been harvesting the produce and donating it to a local nonprofit, The Village Initiative, which distributes it to food-insecure families. Each bag has varying combinations of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, chard, broccoli, and chives, all grown by Otmar’s team using exclusively 18th-century gardening techniques. 

Historic gardener Eve Otmar. Photo courtesy Colonial Williamsburg.

“The produce harvested from our farm site and colonial garden is fresh and nutritious, and donating it is the right thing to do for our neighbors,” Otmar says. 

The garden effort is one of several made by the Colonial Williamsburg team to help those facing food insecurity in the Williamsburg community. Since March 30, Colonial Williamsburg’s culinary team has been preparing more than 2,000 meals each week for delivery by local organizations, including Williamsburg House of Mercy, Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels, and the Historic First Baptist Church.

“The Greater Williamsburg community has shown us tremendous support. As we have evolved, they have been with us every step of the way as loyal patrons, friends, and associates,” says Shaun Coleman, executive director of sales and marketing at Colonial Williamsburg. “During this time of extreme need, we are honored to lend a helping hand in giving back as a small expression of our gratitude to our neighbors and community. We are stronger together.”

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