Maymont: The Big Clean Up

Maymont group in waders

One of the best things about working in Richmond, is the beautiful scenery right on our doorstep. The landscape in Virginia is spectacular and Maymont is the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine. Formerly a private residence, Maymont was donated to the people of Richmond in 1925. The owners, James and Sallie Dooley wanted future generations to enjoy it as much as they had.

Today, it’s largely run on donations from the public and local volunteers play a pivotal role in keeping the estate functioning. For Maymont’s Japanese Garden, Virginia’s summer heat can bring its problems and the pond becomes overrun with algae. As well as creating an eyesore, it can upset the local wildlife and prevent underwater plants from getting enough oxygen. Many of us at go to Maymont at the weekend with our families, so we knew it was time we gave back.

On a warm Friday morning, eight volunteers from met at Maymont’s gates. The staff immediately made our team feel welcome. They had a specific, manageable project prepared for us with all the equipment laid out and ready. The friendly and organized team helped us feel valued and helpful.

In the baking heat, we donned our waders and pitchforks and headed to the lake. Making very close friends with Maymont’s Koi Carp, half of the day’s volunteers waded into the lake. You read that right: into the lake. The water’s cooler temperature was a welcome feeling from the morning’s humidity and helped us to stay cool.

Clearing Maymont

We all quickly learnt that there’s quite a skill involved in maneuvering algae; each time you dragged one piece over, another three would appear in its place. The water also makes the algae very heavy and gave us all a thorough workout.

Once we’d finally negotiated the algae to the edge of the pond, another volunteer stood on dry land and lifted the waste into a wheelbarrow. By the end, the person on the sidelines would often be wetter than the person wearing waders!

This truly was backbreaking work, especially in the 100+ degree heat, so frequent water breaks were vital. Luckily, Maymont staff take very good care of their volunteers and supplied us with plenty of water so that we could keep working.

Our company culture embraces being life-long learners. While we might not be experts in agriculture after our pond-cleaning event at Maymont, our volunteers appreciate understanding how exactly our hard work pays off. It also helped us to see what really goes into maintaining a large public estate.

Team in the pond at Maymont

Once we’d finished, it was great to see the difference that we made. One of the volunteers, Tyler, said “It’s great to be able to see the pond before and after and know that we made a tangible difference.” The formerly cloudy pond was now clear and peaceful, perfect for the weekend’s visitors.

Because of the heat, the lake needs clearing at least once a month, so more volunteers are always needed. Check out the link here to see how you can help. I’m sure we’ll see you there!

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