Community Garden celebrates first year

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Volunteers, visitors and community gardeners got together to celebrate the first anniversary of the Community Gardens at Waugh Chapel. There are now 50 raised-bed gardens available for rent each season, and gardeners are looking forward to the harvest.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Volunteers, visitors and community gardeners got together to celebrate the first anniversary of the Community Gardens at Waugh Chapel. There are now 50 raised-bed gardens available for rent each season, and gardeners are looking forward to the harvest.

CAMBRIDGE — The Cambridge Community Garden at Waugh Chapel celebrated its first anniversary with an open house on July 21. On that date, members of the community were invited to visit and sample some of the wares from the garden, and also time was taken to dedicate a new Rain Garden that was recently added to the growing complex.

What started out as just a big back yard at Waugh Chapel, at 425 High St. in Cambridge, is now a thriving gardening complex with 50 raised beds and a profusion of plants. Some of the beds are planted in flowers, but the vast majority are raising all sorts of vegetables. Community Garden volunteers also took the time to prepare some of the vegetables now being picked for visitors to taste at the open house.

The community garden at Waugh Chapel came about when a number of people came together to support and formulate the idea. Among the early supporters are the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, Dorchester County Health Department, the Pine Street Elks, several of the local churches, Delmarva Community Services, the Dorchester County Library, to name a few.
“There was just a huge group of people who got together and were interested in supporting a community garden,” said Cindy Smith, who got involved when she attended the first planning meeting. Ms. Smith, who handles grant acquisition for Dorchester County, got involved in the hopes that she could use her skills and contacts to help raise some money for the project.

Sourcing money for the gardens turned out to be not too terribly difficult. Donors for the Community Garden include the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the George B. Todd Fund, Dorchester County Elks, Choptank Electric Trust and more. Local churches raised money as well, and numerous private donations were received. In all, $22,000 to $25,000 was donated to initially build 25 raised-bed gardens.

According to Ms. Smith, all of the mulch was donated, as was “the fill, most of the soil, a lot of the plants, most of the seeds; and then this year we put new soil in the beds, and built another 25 beds.”

Water lines were run out into the back lot, to provide water for the beds, and Habitat for Humanity came out and provided the labor to build a garden shed to hold tools.
“This garden is more than being about food,” said Ms. Smith. “It’s about community. It’s about people getting together. The food is really just a byproduct of what this is all about. But, thousands of pounds of food are going to be donated to foodbanks from this garden. We have several beds that were not rented, and the master gardeners refused to let those beds sit empty all year, so we planted them with green beans and sweet potatoes, and all these things that are going to grow like crazy, and all of that will go to the food banks.”

Fall will be the big harvest at the Community Garden, then after that a winter planting will be organized. They will plant kale and cabbages and greens, and they’ll be growing all winter long. “Some of the growers are dedicated garlic fans,” said MS. Smith, “and they have to winter over as well.”

This past season, the Community Garden had about 10 beds that went un-rented, and they want to make sure they fill all the beds up next season, Bed rental is $5, “if you can afford it,” according to Ms. Smith. “If you can’t, we’ll find a way for you to have one.”
If you would like to get involved with the Community Gardens, by volunteering or renting a bed, contact Emmanuel Johnson at 410-829-0051, e-mail him at eljohn0323@aol.com. You can also come by the garden and ask anyone you might see working there.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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