By Charles Warner Published in the Union Times on July 18, 2018
UNION — A young woman who loves art and being outdoors and a young woman who loves writing and other mediums of expression are the latest summer interns at the Piedmont Physic Garden.
Brianne Clarke and Katrina Valliere have been interns at PPG since the beginning of June with Clarke working to develop a new master plan for the garden that will help it expand and achieve its potential and Valliere working to increase community awareness of and involvement with the garden.
A 5th year student at Virginia Tech where she is majoring in Landscape Architecture, Clarke said she chose that subject as her major because it allows her to combine her interests in art and the outdoors.
“I had really liked art in late elementary school and up through high school,” Clarke said. “I like to draw and I like to be outside.”
Her work as an intern at the Piedmont Physic Garden also allows Clarke to pursue her interest in art and being outdoors and provided her with an opportunity to do more than she might have done elsewhere this summer.
“The Landscape Department at Virginia Tech is kind of small and we get emails through our secretary from alumni and that’s when I learned about Miss Switzer’s email seeking interns,” Clarke said. “I decided to seek an internship here because a lot of things she decided I would be doing would be more than at a commercial firm.
“I’m doing the master plan for the garden,” she said. “We had a master plan done a couple of years ago by Land Art and I looked at what they did and why they did it and the components.”
Clarke said that the master plan she is developing focused the garden’s future expansion
“The master plan will set the stage for and takes into account the expansion of the garden,” Clarke said.
In addition to the physical expansion of the garden, Clarke said the goal of her work and Valliere’s is to enable the garden to be open to the public more and available for and incorporate more activities.
“First of all, we would like to have it open to the public because right now it is only open by appointment,” Clarke said. “We’ve been able to have a lot more students and groups come here this summer because Katrina and I have been here to facilitate it.”
Clarke’s and Valliere’s internships at PPG have enabled it to have “Flora Fridays” each Friday this month when it opens its doors to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The last Flora Friday will be July 27 which will be the last day of Clarke’s and Valliere’s internships.
In addition to having the garden open to the public, Clarke said the master plan also envisions greater community use of the garden for activities such as yoga classes.
Clarke said that her internship in general and her work on the master plan in particular has helped her appreciate the garden.
“I think it’s really nice,” Clarke said. “It’s definitely smaller than a lot of botanical gardens I’ve seen but it’s got a lot of potential.”
Publicizing the garden and its potential and seeking to secure for it the means of realizing that potential has been the goal of Valliere’s work as an intern.
A senior at USC Upstate where she majors in Communication with a Concentration in Mass Media, Valliere said her internship at PPG along with her major, is enabling her to pursue her interest in writing, having a positive impact on the community, and plants.
“I’ve always loved writing and anything that has to do with expressing your thoughts,” Valliere said of her choice of study. “My cognate is Non-Profit Administration because I want to have a positive impact and I felt working in a non-profit would be the best way to do that.
“I’m the president of the Community Garden at USC Upstate and the student faculty advisor forwarded me the email from Miss Switzer,” she said. “I like plants and I like the mission (of PPG) that it is about teaching people how plant life can help their health.”
Valliere said that during her internship she has been reaching out to the community to promote interest in and use of the garden and has been working on developing job descriptions for the hiring a professional staff for the PPG.
“I do community outreach, I’ve called the local chamber and other organizations and organized tours of the garden for summer camps and pre-schools,” Valliere said. “I write press releases and make social media posts.”
Valliere said that she and Clarke are in the process of developing a presentation about the master plan for the garden Clarke is developing and will present it to the PPG board.
In addition, Valliere is hoping to help PPG address its lack of a full-time professional staff.
“There’s no full-time staff and so I’m coming up with a job description for a staff member,” Valliere said. “We do tours and have events here so part of their description will be program coordinator. They will have to be able to organize and schedule tours and other events. They will also have to have some knowledge of child development to design programs that are age specific for children.”
As with any institution, the PPG not only needs staff, it also needs money, and Valliere said she is working on a job description for someone to help the garden obtain it.
“There also needs to be a grant writer to help with funding for the organization,” Valliere said. “They (the grant writer and coordinator) can be separate or one, but if they are separate they will need to work together because grant writing has to be very specific and involves a lot of information. If the coordinator and grant writer are separate they will need to work closely together.”
PPG Board Member Toccoa “Coie” Switzer said of Clarke and Valliere ”we’re just thrilled to have them involved in helping us expand our educational platform and making this a special place for all the people of Union County.”
PPG In July
The Piedmont Physic Garden is hosting the following events in July:
• Thursday, July 19 — Piedmont Physic Garden will host Victoria Johnson on her “American Eden” book tour from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Johnson will discuss her biographical book about David Hosack, physician to Alexander Hamilton and the botanist that founded the first American botanical garden. General admission is $20. Registration is required, as space is limited. Call 864-427-2556 or visit http://www.piedmontphysicgarden.org to purchase tickets. Tickets are also on sale at both the Union County Health Care Foundation and the Union County Museum.
• Friday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 — The Piedmont Physic Garden opens its gates to the public every Friday in July with visitors welcome from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Visitors may either take a self-guided tour or have a staff member lead them through the medicinal garden. The tour is designed to help visitors learn what the plants being cultivated at the garden were once used for. There is also a culinary garden at PPG. In addition the zinnias being cultivated at PPG attracts several types of butterflies.
Piedmont Physic Garden, 301 E. South Street Union, is a local botanical garden focused on health and wellness. PPG hosts private tours, workshops, and garden parties. Founded in 2014 by the Switzer and Flynn families, the garden highlights the historical medicinal use of plants, with a specific interest in those from the Piedmont and Southern Appalachian corridor.
For more information call 864-427-2556 and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org.