Colonial Williamsburg feeds those in need during pandemic


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A local historic attraction is using its resources to help feed others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colonial Williamsburg opened its doors to the public just a few weeks ago after being closed since the middle of March due to the pandemic. Essential workers spent the time catching up on projects.

Eve Otmar, who is the journeyman supervisor of the historic garden, was also busy working during the months that many others were away.

“It’s a new normal but people are joyful to be out and to be able to come into the garden. The gardeners are happy to be back and see what’s grown. It’s shocking to see whats grown in that amount of time,” she said.

Otmar says the vegetables usually grown in her gardens go to their partners with the Foodways program at the Governor’s Palace and the chefs at the Williamsburg Inn but, they’ve been closed.

“In March and April, I had a winter garden full of food and nowhere to go. But through being connected through one of our departments, she said ‘Oh my gosh, I have someplace to go’ and that’s how all this started,” Otmar said.

Since then, vegetables from Colonial Garden and others located in the historic district have been delivered to organizations such as Village Initiative and Williamsburg House of Mercy to help feed those in need.

“It was the perfect solution to start harvesting and donating to the community,” said Joanne Chapman, who is the landscape manager for Colonial Williamsburg.

Chapman says the landscape department is responsible for eight vegetable gardens in the historic district and they also take their produce to taverns.

Master Gardeners, who are volunteers, and their interns help them plant and harvest. The master gardeners usually start helping in March.

“This year due to COVID, they were not able to start back and they just recently returned this week. We’re thrilled to have them back and they’re thrilled to be back,” she said.

And across the street, journeyman farmer, Ed Schultz, is also doing his part to help feed those hungry.

“It’s affirming,” he said. “This is the right thing to do and this food is going to people that need it. Feeding people? What can be better?” he asked.

Schultz, who dresses in 18th-century garb and uses 18th-century tools, says he loves being able to share his love of farming not just through growing food.

“It’s who I am. I farm here. I farm at home. It’s part of who I am,” he said. “I also like to share it with guests especially right now with a lot of people gardening. A lot of people are invigorated by this movement we have in America. Farming is cool again.”

To learn more about Colonial Williamsburg, click here.

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