Clinton Community Garden Produces Record Harvest
This was a common scene this summer: The Food for All Garden had a lot of youthful assistance this year. (Photo by Margaret Larom )
If you’re one of the many volunteers who helped out at the community garden behind the Episcopal Church of the Holy Advent in Clinton—congratulations! This year the Food for All Garden produced almost 3,000 pounds more than it did last year, a total harvest of 9,720 pounds of various vegetables along with herbs and flowers.
“We were amazed, but attribute it to regular watering—irrigation thanks to Connecticut Department of Agriculture grant for a well, plus St. Alexis Church grants for drip system—plus regular fertilizing with organic fish and seaweed emulsion, plus a temporary victory over critters thanks to a grant from Community Foundation of Middlesex County,” said garden organizer Margaret Larom.
The majority of the produce went to the Clinton Food Pantry. Some found its way to other pantries in the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries network.
“For some weeks during the height of the season we also were able to send vegetables to the Madison Food Pantry,” Larom noted.
From students at Pierson School to seniors from The Shoreline of Clinton (the former Peregrine’s Landing)—both neighbors to the garden—a wide range of age groups gave generously of their time. Volunteers from Clinton, Deep River, Westbrook, Madison, and beyond planted seedlings, weeded, watered, and performed all the tasks necessary to keep the extensive garden, which measures 100 by 200 feet, running smoothly.
“Some [volunteers] are excellent gardeners, others are good at fixing things, others are good with planning or record-keeping. Plenty of jobs don’t require particular expertise, but are invaluable. One newcomer this year helped enormously by turning the irrigation on and off each day, and hand-watering,” said Larom. “Nearly 200 children, teens, and tweens came for at least two hours at some point, and many teens worked 15, 18, even 20 hours.”
However, Larom added that it was still not enough people for the amount of work.
“We definitely need more ‘regulars’ who can commit to two to three hours each week,” she said. “I also welcome groups from schools, scouts, or whatever, at days and times convenient for them.”
The list of local organizations that helped out is a long one. Refrigerators were purchased at-cost from Shore TV & Appliances, the Rotary Club and Fire Department donated proceeds from their annual spring food drive, Cindy Stevens did a paint-in that benefited the garden, and a concert at the Holy Advent Church also helped raise funds. Other organizations that contributed include the Arbor Garden Club, Westbrook Garden Club, Oxford Academy, and Families Helping Families—the latter has supported the garden each year since its inception in 2012.
With an annual operating budget of $5,000, the Food for All Garden depends on donations to do all that it does.
“Clinton Nurseries was another major donor, not only with a generous grant, but with help in covering the hoop house, sharpening tools, delivering compost, and sending work crews twice when we were really losing the war with weeds,” Larom added. “Without generous help with money and in-kind donations, we never could have gotten this project off the ground, or keep it afloat.”
Next year, the garden will start up again in late March. Larom hopes to get more volunteers and produce a harvest that matches this year’s success.
“We hope to do the same or better!” she said.
How does it start out? The same way it continues—with support from the community. Seedlings are started by Suzanne Baker of Shoreline Gardens in Clinton, and the Hart Seed Co. in Wethersfield donates seeds each year. Want to see it end with even more of a flourish? Get in touch with Larom to become part of this ongoing community effort.
Food for All Garden volunteers work in the garden on Saturdays and Wednesdays from late March through November. Individuals and groups are encouraged to participate. For more information or to volunteer, contact Margaret Larom at 917-714-4215 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the “Food for All Garden” Facebook page.