Master Gardener Judy Funderburk has just won Arlington County’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer for 2015, an honor richly deserved. You know Judy as a stalwart and universally beloved member of MGNV and an enthusiastic and indefatigable leader at the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden in South Arlington, where she gladly shares her vast knowledge about horticulture and plants.
But did you know:
1. 2016 is a momentous year for Judy – even without the Thomas award. She is celebrating:
- Twenty years as a Master Gardener,
- More than 6,000 volunteer hours for VCE,
- Fifty years of marriage to her husband, J.Vic Funderburk, 47 years as Mom to Amy and to Seth three years later,
- Forty years of living in Arlington’s Glencarlyn neighborhood,
- And her 75th birthday.
2. For Judy, gardening is about more than seeds, soil and seeing things grow.
“Gardening has always been about relationships – with plants and people,” she says, adding that gardening with friends in a community plot as well as in MGNV demonstration gardens “multiplied the pleasure.” In her gardening practice, even the task of turning the soil — digging in and lifting — becomes a metaphor for lightening and opening up the gardener. “When sharing the digging and turning with another MG or friend, we are both opened by the process, able to hear each other at a deeper level,” she says.
3. Outside the garden, Judy is an experienced dance movement therapist.
She earned a master’s degree at age 50 and worked for eight years with seniors at a geriatric day care center in the District, helping them get in touch with and share their stories as elders, honoring their lives and the wisdom of their years.
“Dance is a way of listening to your inner guide,” she says.
4. A cucumber changed everything.
As a girl in Allentown, Pa., Judy helped her mother with Johnny Jump Ups and Oriental Poppies. One year, Judy’s dad, who loved fresh corn, planted corn seeds according to the Native American method, with fish heads. All went well until the night before he planned to harvest, when raccoons decimated his crop.
“He decided enough of that!” Judy said with a laugh.
But Judy didn’t let the prospect of midnight marauders dissuade her from planting her own first garden in South Carolina as a young bride in her 20s. She still recalls with delight her first baby cucumber: “Have you ever seen a tiny cucumber emerge from behind its bright yellow flower? It was the most amazing thing!”
5. When Judy goes on vacation, wild blueberries better watch out.
For Judy, the Poconos are a favorite getaway. Her first mission many mornings is to run out and pick wild blueberries for breakfast. “I love picking anything that’s wild,” she says, adding, “When I come back, I’m high for hours.”
Bonus: Why the dragonfly?
Dragonfly came into Judy’s life during the time she was involved with a Shamanic Drumming and Healing Circle. In the Native American tradition, when an animal comes into your life three times over a short period of time, it is usually offering itself as a “totem” and guide for you. One summer dragonfly appeared three times in three different places. Ever since, Judy has felt aligned with its magic and transformational power. Dragonfly holds herself lightly in the world, something Judy is still working on. Symbols of dragonfly abound in her home, and as many have noted, in her email address.
- Read about Judy’s extensive volunteer activities on the Arlington County website – Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award.
- Judy’s experiences and thoughts on gardening are included in Garden Voices: Stories of Women and Their Gardens, a 2007 book by Carolyn Freas Rapp. The chapter on Judy is titled: “Tilling the Soil of Friendship.”
~ Master Gardener Marsha Mercer