Volunteers spread mulch, good will at Cary’s Good Hope Farm

Cary 3-year-old Lily Dempsey helps mom Melissa shovel mulch Monday at the Martin Luther King Day of Service at Good Hope Farm in Cary. Volunteers helped prepare the Town of Cary's urban agriculture project for spring planting.

About 250 volunteers braved winter temperatures on Monday to get Cary’s Good Hope Farm ready for spring.

The project, which brought together retirees, students, YMCA members, church groups and Scouts, was organized by the Town of Cary as part of its Martin Luther King Day of Service.

“To fulfill that desire for citizens to serve in a meaningful way proved to be really popular,” said Sarah Justice, environmental outreach program coordinator for the town. “It never ceases to make me feel so humbled and appreciative of the Cary community to have that level of dedication to giving back to come out in the freezing cold.”

The 29-acre cultivator farm off Morrisville Carpenter Road in Cary is a partnership between the Town of Cary, Piedmont Conservation Council, The Conservation Fund, NC Community Development Initiative and Conservation Trust for NC. The urban farmstead was set up to support the next generation of farmers, provide more sources for local, healthy food, and engage the community around agriculture. This year, eight agribusinesses will be growing produce at the farm.

Volunteers were mainly tasked with mixing leaf mulch into the soil. For months leading up to the event, the town has dumped leaf mulch from its curbside collection program at the site.

“This is a historic, organic farm, so supplementing the soil at this time of year is really important for the success of organic farming,” said Justice.“It has been farmed for more than a hundred years with tobacco, so rebuilding the soil is really important.”

Melissa Dempsey of Cary was there spreading mulch with her husband, Troy, and their two children, 3-year-old Lily and 5-year-old Liam.

“This is part of our New Year’s resolution,” she said. “To do community service every month as a family.”

Karen Spangler-Pereira of Holly Springs Googled “community service on MLK Day,” and Cary’s event came up first. She volunteered with her home-schooled children, Masin, 12, and Nevin, 14.

“MLK Day is a day of service,” she said. “It’s good to get out and try to help the community, so we signed up as a family.”

Other projects included spreading wood chips in the new orchard to keep down weeds, and planting nearly 100 native shrubs at nearby Carpenter Park.

Volunteers at the event were also encouraged to bring nonperishable food items which were donated to the Dorcas Ministries food pantry.

Monthly workdays are scheduled every third Saturday, and those interested in volunteering can sign up at goodhopefarm.org. Social media is another good way to keep up with volunteer opportunities, says Justice.

For more information about the farm and its mission, check out https://www.carymagazine.com/features/back-to-the-future/.

Jonathan Fredin contributed to this report.

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