Gardeners invited to participate in Windsor community gardens
By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Apr. 3, 2013
Community gardens have sprung up all around the country, a kind of variation on the wartime victory garden, but these days it’s a war on the high cost of quality food, as well as a re-blossoming of the value placed on connecting with one’s neighbors.
The community gardens at Northwest Park in Windsor have been in use for more than 10 years, and April 8 begins a new round of sign-ups for those who’d like a generous plot that’s already been harrowed and given its first meal of compost.
While there are 30 in all, these 36-by-36-foot plots go quickly. According to Northwest Park Manager Ford Parker, first dibs go to those who used the garden last year. After that, it’s first-come, first-served. Sign-up for other Windsor residents began in mid-March. Open registration begins April 8; the gardens are open to residents of surrounding towns, but Windsor residents get first priority. Over the past 10 years, about 600 people have used the gardens, Parker said.
The cost is $35 for Windsor residents and $45 for non-residents.
Besides being given a ready-made garden space, gardeners also are supplied with water, but they have to bring their own hoses.
Another plus, Parker said, is that there’s parking near the garden.
“Many of our gardeners are senior citizens, so having parking nearby means they don’t have to lug their plants and other materials very far,” Parker said.
Gardeners also have to supply and install their own fencing, and remove it at the end of the season, so the beds can be mowed and re-plowed for the next season.
Parker noted that because gardeners often invest a lot of money and labor into amending the soil in their particular garden bed, the town will contact them again next season to offer them the same spot.
Besides keeping their plot weeded and watered, the only other request made of participants is that they not use chemical pesticides. “We encourage organic practices – we ask that they not use pesticides and use more natural fertilizers,” Parker said.
And those gardeners who want to learn about alternatives to pesticides and get other tips can do so by visiting the demonstration garden at Northwest Park.
The volunteers who tend the organic demonstration garden get to bring home their share of the harvest and the rest is donated to the local soup kitchen, Parker said.
Over the years, the community gardens have been enjoyed by a variety of local residents, Parker said. “We have a mix of couples, individuals and occasionally some families,” he said.
People take advantage of the gardening spaces for different reasons, he added. “They often plant vegetables that they’re familiar with from their ethnic or cultural background,” he said.
Gardening side-by-side becomes an opportunity for people to learn more about another country’s foods and gardening practices. “We have a Chinese couple, for example, who grow food from their culture and do things a little differently, such as the way they set up their bean poles,” Parker said.
Gardening is also a great form of exercise, as well as a tonic for stress relief. “For many, it’s a chance to get out of an urban environment and enjoy peace and quiet, some solitude, some respite,” Parker said.
Northwest Park is located at 145 Lang Road in Windsor. To request a garden plot, visit Town Hall during office hours, call 860-285-1886 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To learn more about Northwest Park, visit www.northwestpark.org.