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            Garden Workdays draw volunteers to keep Napa Valley’s di Rosa museum beautiful
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            Garden Workdays draw volunteers to keep Napa Valley’s di Rosa museum beautiful

            • Updated

            CARNEROS — di Rosa is more than just a museum of contemporary artworks. It is also a 217-acre expanse of rolling grasses and sunny gardens tucked into the vineyard country五福彩票App下载 west of Napa, a place requiring constant effort to keep sparkling and serene.

            In recent weeks, directors of the modern-art showcase in the Carneros region have begun reaching out for helpers – volunteers who arrive on Wednesday mornings armed with hoes, shovels and thick gloves to weed gardens, look after fruit trees and ensure that di Rosa’s surroundings are as attractive as the museum within.

            The Garden Workdays are a bid by the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art to bolster its wintertime groundskeeping while also raising the profile of the art center, according to Andrea Saenz Williams, director of education and civic management. The program began in late February, seeking people willing to devote up to four hours at a time on the museum’s garden areas and orchards off Highway 12/121.

            “Our hope is that through this program, we can develop an interested cohort of volunteers who enjoy working outside and in the gardens, who may be able to help us with existing projects outdoors,” said Williams.

            “This supports and honors (the museum’s) work by establishing a more regular volunteer program for the gardens. We have such a large property, and it’s so incredible to think how beautifully maintained they are when we have essentially three people maintaining it all.”

            On Wednesday, the third week of Garden Workdays produced a small but enthusiastic team laboring under a soft morning sun – three women who joined four staff members at Veronica’s Garden behind the museum building, pulling weeds and looking after trees. (Volunteers and staff will tend to a different garden or plot of land each Wednesday, according to Williams.)

            Before enlisting to volunteer, none of the newcomers had had significant contact with di Rosa – or in the case of Susie Horejs, any at all, despite constantly driving past its grounds on the road to Sonoma County. An avid vegetable gardener at her Napa 五福彩票App下载, she joined the other workers in tilling the soil around fruit trees, helping them spread their roots wider and absorb water better.

            “I never had gone there – my husband and I drive by frequently saying ‘We’ve gotta go see it!’” said Horejs, who was volunteering between stints as a contract pilot. “Then I saw this opportunity online and I said, ‘That’s it, I’m doing this, we’re gonna go see it.”

            “It’s part of my community and I live here, so it feels good to do this,” said another volunteer, Maria Gomez of Napa, who had visited di Rosa only once before. “And we get to be in a part of (the museum) where people don’t usually get to go.”

            Guiding the work on Wednesday was Jose Perez, di Rosa’s head groundskeeper, who has worked at the property for 33 years. Even with the Garden Workdays in only their third week – and with the volunteers not asked to handle power tools or heavy equipment – Perez was appreciative for the extra sets of hands to beautify a sprawling site.

            “This place is big – basically I do it myself, the gardens and everything,” he said. “That’s the idea, to make the place more beautiful, for the guests, for the people.”

            “It’s hard work, but it’s fun,” said Brenda Balderas, an American Canyon woman who tends bar at the NapaSport restaurant. “Kind of cool watching it all come together; it’s changing pretty quickly. It’s a good workout and it’s nice being outside.”

            di Rosa will continue holding Garden Workdays through Wednesday, March 25 before resuming the volunteer sessions next winter, said Williams.

            You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or hyune@napanews.com


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            Public Safety Reporter

            Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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