Did You Know? – Weston’s Community Gardens
Just past Merriam Village and across from Leaftopia, Weston’s Community Garden has been a social and horticultural therapy spot, as well as vegetable and fruit mecca for forty years. As winter loses its grip on the land and spring temperatures cometh, the Owl caught up with Freddie Wiss, who is the coordinator of the Garden.
1. When did the Community Gardens start?
Bill McIlwain started Green Power in 1970 on Merriam Street and an area of that farm was used for individual gardeners. In the mid-70s, the Community Gardens were laid out in 55 30×30 plots with underground water lines. Brian Donohue was instrumental in this endeavor. Martha Gogel became the lead person through most of the 1980s.
2. How did you come to be the Garden Coordinator? Is there a volunteer board?
In 1990, four of us gardeners took over as Garden Coordinators as the Garden had become forgotten with Martha moving to Vermont. Gradually the foursome became a onesome. There are several gardeners who volunteer and take on different responsibilities and contribute, but no board.
3. How is the money from the garden plot rental used? Is it for maintenance of the overall site?
The fees pay for water usage and other town-provided maintenance.
4. How many plots/half plots are there?
Presently there are 70 gardeners.
5. Is there a waitlist or are there usually open plots at this time of year?
There is a waiting list. As there has been an increase in gardening interest with COVID, the waiting list has grown to be over a dozen. Usually about four plots turn over each year.
6 What would you say is the most commonly grown vegetable, fruit or flower? Do most people mix it up or specialize?
Tomatoes. A lot of people experiment. A lot of people do just the vegetables that they know the voles won’t eat.
7. Do you ever have disagreements like when sunflowers shade a plot?
Occasionally there are disputes.
8. Tell me about the Community Garden community? Do people help each other out and is there socializing at the picnic tables (when Covid allows)?
The community has all ages, races, cultures, etc. It is a real community that mutually experiences a direct connection with the land and has respect for each other. A few gardeners are very helpful to others, especially the elderly, as there are many from Merriam Village and the Brook School. Other than last year (COVID!) there is a Fall Garden picnic that a couple of volunteers will organize. Families often have barbecues in the common area.
9. It says the rules were created in 2015…were there rules before then or was it a free for all?
There were coordinator-written rules, but not official Conservation Commission rules. By having them written by the town, the Conservation Commission could be the heavyweight when it comes to disputes, and the coordinator could just be the messenger.
10. What’s your favorite thing about the garden?
The Garden utilizes Weston’s open space and natural resources. There is a nice sense of camaraderie and community spirit, people enjoying and learning from each other. It’s a place to meet and share common interests in growing healthy organic food for our families and friends.
For more information about the Weston Community Gardens, please see the Town of Weston webpage.