Some of the volunteers for the Collaborative Community Garden at Whole Village, including members of Brownie Troop 20183, listened carefully to Master Gardener Bob Richer as he explained how to plant cold crops like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts last weekend. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 22, 2019PLYMOUTH – Master Gardeners from the Pemi-Baker and Newfound regions were joined by local residents as they began the planting process for the Collaborative Community Garden at Whole Village in Plymouth bright and early last Saturday morning.
The garden, located between Whole Village and Bridge House on Highland Street, is an annual endeavor that helps provide fresh vegetables to many in the community. This year the young boys and girls of the Head Start Program at Whole Village are also doing their part with a small strawberry crop they have started in the garden.
Lisa Ford of the UNH Cooperative Extension's Nutrition Connection program was among the volunteers on Saturday and said the garden is a great asset for the community in many ways. Harvests from the garden provide her nutrition program with fresh produce, are used for Friday Family Fun Night dinners at Whole Village, shared with the garden's volunteers and are also distributed to the local food pantry.
"The food we grow feeds our bodies, while tending the gardens feeds are souls. It's amazing to see what happens here in the garden. It's really beautiful," Ford said.
Among those helping to feed both bodies and souls last week were members of Plymouth Brownie Troop 20183 who are now in their third year of volunteerism at the garden. Troop Leader Natalie Amtmann said the girls got involved with their former Daisy Troop Leader and have continued with the project ever since.
"They're working on an Outdoor Journey right now and wanted to keep going with this as a service project," Amtmann said. "These girls don't mind getting dirty!"
A few weeks ago, the troop met with Master Gardeners Bob Richer and Deanne Lussier to begin cleaning up the grounds in preparation for this year's crops. Last Saturday it was time to get some early cold crops in the ground.
Richer gathered the volunteers around one bed that had been mulched with buckwheat grown last summer and covered with biodegradable cardboard to inhibit weed growth where he explained the next step in planting cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Pre-dug holes, Richer pointed out, were already made in the ground and he demonstrated how to tuck each young plant into them. Lussier also shared a few of her own tips for the cold weather crops they were planting that day.
"They need shade until their root systems are established. Cold crops don't really like it to be hot and do better with a little shade, so you can also place some cedar shingles, angled in the ground beside them, to keep some of the sun off them as they start to grow," she said.
Another project that day was the planting of peas along a new round-cage wire structure where their vines happily climb the wire and the pea pods can be readily gathered. Most of all, the hoop can be a great space-saving measure in a garden.
"Once the peas flower, then we can also plant beans there as well," said Richer.
The other permanent space-saving structure added last weekend was another upright wire grid where cucumbers can climb and not turn yellow on one side from laying on the ground as they mature.
The community volunteers and girls of Troop 20183 listened carefully to the advice and instructions then got busy planting under the watchful eyes and with added advice from Richer, Lussier and the area's newest Master Gardener, Louise Migliore of Bristol.
Eight-year-old Rose was excited about the project, stating, "I like gardening here because I'm helping people make a big difference. Two weeks ago I got to plant a few pea pods and some onions and they're actually getting bigger. It's fun to watch!"
Besides the Plymouth Community Garden she said she looks forward to helping her mom with their own family garden this spring.
Others who would like to experience the fun and satisfaction of growing vegetables for the community are encouraged to join the Master Gardeners each Wednesday this summer between 9-10:30 a.m. as they nurture this year's crops. They are also available to answer any questions people may have about their own vegetable gardens at that time.