|An abandoned plot. 'Mom' apparently|
had other ideas for the summer
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One member of our town’s Select Board (think Town Council) also happened to be our attorney. We went to him with our grievances. He said he would look into the matter. Two weeks later, the Town Clerk asked us to come to the Town House (think Town Hall) to be sworn in as members of the Town Garden Committee. When we were duly installed, we asked whom we should contact about attending the next meeting. The Town Clerk, with a perfectly straight face, informed us all the members of the committee had resigned. We were on our own.
We informed the Select Board what we wanted to do and they said, ‘fine, whatever’. We ripped up the eight-page ‘Garden Rules’ and wrote a set of ‘Guidelines’ that fit on a single page (so no one could say they didn’t have time to read them). The spigots were repaired, all plots were weeded under penalty of expulsion, and no one could have more than one plot. The garden expanded three times to become 75 plots in two sizes.
The last expansion came in 2021 – amid Covid – after we could not accommodate all the town residents who wanted in. Last year, with Covid restrictions largely gone and people again free to travel, we nearly concluded that last growth spurt was a mistake. Seven plots were surrendered early in the season, only four gardeners were on our wait list, and repeated entreaties via social media yielded no takers. In a ‘Hail-Mary-pass’ moment, we turned the three tenant-less plots over to volunteers to grow produce for the Medfield Food Cupboard.
|Part of one delivery to a food pantry|
At the end of last season, the lingering question in Betty’s and my mind was, like a ‘dot-com’ company that hires too many people and takes on too much real estate only to find its customers have moved on to something newer and shinier, whether community vegetable gardening was a bubble doomed to burst?
We got our first inkling of an answer when we sent out our ‘straw poll’ in November and found just ten of our 75 plot holders didn’t plan to return – and two of those who declined were doing so because them were moving. Moreover, three half-plot (300 square feet) gardeners said they would like to move up to a full (600 square feet) space. Maybe it’s the astronomical prices of vegetables, but interest in community gardening appears to be as strong as ever.
We also start this fifteenth season with a third member of the Community Garden Committee. No less a sage than Leonard Cohen wrote, ‘Seventy is not old age; it is the foothills of old age’. Both Betty and I check that box and, while we certainly don’t feel ‘old’, we know the baton will need to be passed at some point. Whether our new ‘Ogre Understudy’ is the person to take the reins or that task falls to someone (or several someones) who have yet to raise their hands, we want the Community Garden to not just be around, but to thrive for the next generation of folks who want to get their hands dirty.