WILLIAMSBURG- It took patience, time and a lot of mistakes but the Zangardi’s now have enough expertise to host classes and assist others with garden layout and know-how.
In the beginning, the couple started growing vegetables in 5 gallon buckets, now they have a large teaching garden where they welcome the community to come, sit and hear the tips and tricks they have learned over time.
“We tell people that you don’t have to have a garden this big. Just grow something,” said Vince Zangardi, “Not only will you be super pleased you did but it reduces the pressure on the global food system. Start small. Dream big but, start small.”
The couple enjoys hosting classes in their loving named Zangarden space and watching new gardeners blossom with potential. And, standing in their backyard, it is easy to see they have an abundance of knowledge to share.
“No doubt this is a full-time hobby. We will put up to 30 hours a week of work out in the garden during the prime season,” Vince continues, “but, we have learned a lot of things to do that reduce maintenance.”
In order to maximize space, Vince suggest looking for ways to vertical garden and utilize space. Fences become trellis’ and they have installed an arch for cucumbers to climb.
And with cucumbers, there are also pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.
“In the height of summer, we are harvesting cucumbers twice a day,” said Valerie Zangardi, “probably anywhere between 20 and 30 pounds at a time.”
Pickle-making is definitely something they do together. Stating it can take up to several hours at a time, and during the season they produce pickles several days a week. Valerie helps by washing and slicing but contrary to popular belief, it is Vince that actually makes the pickles.
“People are always saying, tell your wife these are great,” laughs Vince, “and I just say, ‘no problem, I’ll tell her!'”
“The nice thing is we feed ourselves, our neighbors and family. So, we are eating vegetables for free but, also, the operation itself completely pays for everything we want to buy every year,” said Vince.
During peak season, you can find the Zangadi’s selling their produce and pickles in a variety of locations across town.
In addition to the large array of fruits and vegetables Zangarden currently cultivates, this year they are adding loofahs, strawberries and several new tomato varieties.
Two Zangarden workshops are scheduled for April, space is limited and reservations are required.
“We want people to get excited for the growing season and get ahead of the curve so they can plan and prep to have a successful season,” Valerie said.
Follow the Zangarden on Facebook to learn more about workshops and pop-up market locations.