North Chelmsford Community Garden Construction Set to Begin
Volunteers are needed to make the community garden a reality.
Constuction of a new community garden off Wotton Street in North Chelmsford will start on April 27, and the Chelmsford Open Space Stewards are looking for some pairs of hands to help get the project off the ground.
Publicity Steward Joanne Stanway, of Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship, shares some more information below about the garden and next weekend's "work weekend" at the garden. Work will begin at about 8 a.m. each day on April 27-29.
Q: What's the status of the community garden on Wotton Street?
A: The community garden at Wotton Street – the fourth to be constructed in town since 2009, is approved for construction. We have gardeners lined up for 31 garden plots and funding approved by the Community Preservation Committee. The garden area has been prepared through the generous help of Charlie Wojtas with compost and soil amendments provided by Phil Jones of Jones Farm.
Q: What kind of work needs to be done next weekend?
A: From Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29, the Chelmsford Open Space Stewards and as many volunteers as we can muster will be installing the perimeter fence, painting the fence, and adding barrier chicken wire to keep out the critters. It’s a big undertaking, but last spring we accomplished this over a weekend because people came out in force to help. It’s sort of like a barn-raising, but it’s a fence-building effort.
Q: How can people help - what kind of equipment do you need? Or do you just need some pairs of hands to help do the work?
A: There will be jobs for everyone throughout the weekend, no matter what their skill level is. I have helped do this type of work before, so if someone is willing and has a pair of work gloves, I encourage them to join in.
The plan is to dig the fence post holes on Friday, and for that we need gas-powered augers to drill the holes. If anyone has access to one, please beg, borrow and steal to bring it to the site. On Saturday we will put the fence posts in place, then add the horizontal boards to complete the fence. If we can start painting the fence on Saturday, that will be a big plus.
Sunday will be finishing painting and adding the chicken wire to the inside of the fence – this requires digging down about four inches to set the wire so rabbits and other small animals can’t easily burrow underneath to eat all the veggies.
Q: When will people be able to start using garden plots?
A: As soon as the fencing is in place, gardeners can begin planting. However, a word of caution from Farmer Phil Jones, who has been a great advocate, resource and manager of the community gardens at Sunny Meadow Farm, is to wait until the last frost. It’s easy to think with all the unseasonably warm weather that it’s time to plant, but this is New England and anything is possible.
Q: What are you looking forward to about another community garden in town?
A: When we created the original community garden at Sunny Meadow Farm in 2009, we really had no idea how great it would be. The gardens have brought together people from all over our community – from the business people who donated their time and labor to create the garden and who help to maintain it, to the gardeners themselves.
It’s really wonderful to see a seasoned gardener share gardening techniques with a 12 year old, or someone growing unfamiliar vegetables from their native country.The Central Congregational Church has two garden plots, and each year donates about 900 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries. I’m looking forward to expanding that dynamic to North Chelmsford. The people in our town are so wonderful, I have no doubt it will be a great experience.
Whether or not people are able to help next weekend, I want to encourage the community to visit the community gardens at Sunny Meadow Farm on Robin Hill Road, as well as the Wotton Street Community Garden once it’s completed. These gardens are owned by the Town of Chelmsford and managed by the Town Manager and Board of Selectman. The gardens are a wonderful destination and resource in the community, and really fun to visit (although please don’t snag someone’s freshly grown tomatoes!)
The Wotton Street Community Garden work weekend is April 27, 28 & 29. Work will probably begin around 8 a.m. each day. You can reach the site from Vinal Square in North Chelmsford as if you are going to Southwell Field (turn at Szechuan Chef Restaurant). People should feel free to stop by any time and help out for the period of time they are able to.
This work weekend is also the perfect opportunity for high school students to beef up their college applications with community service hours.
For more information about the community gardens, please visit http://garden.chelmsfordgov.com.
For questions about volunteering, please email Phil Stanway firstname.lastname@example.org.