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Brianna Hallinan, founder of Sustainable Broomfield, and her mother Belinda Harp-Schrag prep an area outside the Brunner Farmhouse for stones to allow people easier access to the site. An appreciation event was held Saturday to thank garden volunteers. (Jennifer Rios, Staff Writer)
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Gardeners who have tended plots at the Brunner Farmhouse and Gardens during the COVID-19 pandemic were thanked for their hard work at an appreciation event Saturday morning.

Despite the pandemic, volunteers worked “tirelessly in the heat, battling nasty weeds and tending to lovely perennials while wearing their masks and socially distancing,” Shari Burton, chair of the Brunner Farmhouse Citizen Advisory Committee, said.

The reception included a breakfast from Food Coma Shack, a Broomfield food truck which was started by Colleen Cubides, a member of the Brunner Advisory Committee. She and her staff kicked off the business at the appreciation event.

After the reception volunteers did their annual fall clean-up.

Members pulled weeds, moved rocks and put stone pavers in place to give visitors an easier path to the historic farmhouse.

“We were the only flower act in town,” Burton said, adding that furloughs and belt-tightening at the city and county offices led to non-essential services being affected.

Broomfield cleared volunteers to return to the gardens May 8, she said, which is later in the season than usual.

Earlier this year the committee had been planning a future vegetable garden, which was postponed but is still pending. The garden would be intended to be a learning space where adults and children could learn to grow food.

Mayor Patrick Quinn was invited, but unable to attend the event. Instead Burton read a letter sent from City and County Deputy City Manager Kevin Standbridge.

He thanked the advisory committee, the Colorado Sate University Extension Service Master Gardner program staff and volunteers and all the residents who nurtured the plants and flowers at the farmhouse to “create the magnificent palette of color and texture found in the gardens.”

“This year the gardens have truly flourished with the attentive care of the resident volunteers,” he wrote. “The gardens provide a welcome respite for the many Broomfield residents who visit the gardens and take in their splendor. The beauty is a welcome diversion to the realities many of us face.”

In the past the approximately 50 nonprofits that use the Brunner Farmhouse were asked to donate labor in exchange for use of the building, but two years ago the committee began recruiting gardening volunteers. Part of that switch involved getting master gardeners involved.

Volunteers at the event also received a gift — a signed piece of art by Valentine Roche.

The committee, in partnership with the Broomfield Art Guild, hosted an art contest that asked artists to feature the farmhouse. Roche’s was selected as the winner and she was recognized at the event, along with a table of other artists. Several pieces were displayed at the farmhouse.

“Valentine’s stunning digitally enhanced photo was selected from 20 outstanding entries,” Burton said, who added Roche was awarded an honorarium at the event.

Burton said the committee is seeking more volunteers to join next spring. Anyone interested can contact her at ssburton11@gmail.com. They will be matched with a master gardener who will mentor them and provide ideas and garden knowledge.

“Our goal is getting more people to come to the gardens to walk and just enjoy a peaceful place,” Burton said.

Some current volunteers include Brianna Harp and the Sustainable Broomfield team, David Oliver, former president of the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra, and Albert Daviou, retired priest from Florida, and his wife Pat Daviou who maintain the Red Garden. Roxie Juul and members of the Sew & Grow Club, including Terry Dickson, Brigitta Wagner-Morton, Bob Rudland, Marsha Allen and Marian Seder, who were at the event, were some of the original gardeners and have been volunteering for about 10 years.

Burton also mentioned the farmhouse is getting an official sign installed this week — a project that has been in the works for more than a year. It will identify the space as the Brunner Farmhouse and Gardens, which is the new official name, and will be lit by solar panels.

“It has been difficult for new visitors or groups using the farmhouse to find the driveway especially at night,” Burton said. “I believe this is both a matter of courtesy, as well as safety.”

The final invoice is not paid, but the quote for the sign was $6,000, a city and county spokesperson said. It comes out of the annual Open Space and Trails signs and kiosks account, which is funded from the Open Space Budget.

“This type of sign is part of our trail signage program and typically costs closer to $2,000,” Chief Communications Officer Carolyn Romero said. “The reason this sign costs more is because it is being installed with lighting on both sides and an onboard solar panel/battery to provide the power. We are also using thicker posts than normal for this sign because it is close to the street and may be reached by snow thrown from plowing.”

The gardens currently have 25 volunteers and more than 10 master gardener mentors, Burton said. She is looking to recruit another five as year year brings some turnover because members move or take on other obligations.

The committee asks for a commitment of one season — April 1 through mid October. They get one training plus group education, she said.

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