After Successful 2011, Community Garden Looks to 2012 Registration
Gardens in three locations produced 6,000 lbs. of produce, with 2,400 lbs. going to local seniors, the homeless, and local food pantries.
Despite some wicked weather, the Maplewood Community Garden celebrated a very successful 2011 growing season.
Now, MCG organizers are looking to register gardeners for 2012. January 6 is the deadline for veteran members to register, with new members able to register from January 9-12 online and in person on January 11 from 6-8 p.m., site to be determined.
Maplewood Deputy Mayor Kathy Leventhal said that an informational meeting for next year's growing season would be held at the Main Branch of the Maplewood Memorial Library on Baker Street from 7-9 p.m. on January 30. She advised those interested in participating in the Community Garden to visit maplewoodcg.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leventhal told the Maplewood Township Committee on Dec. 6, 2011, that the Community Garden — now in three locations — had produced a total of 6,000 lbs. of harvested produce, grown by 74 families in the community.
Of that 6,000, about 2,400 lbs. had been grown in designated community plots or by students at the Montrose School and donated to two residential senior centers in South Orange, the food pantry at St. Joseph's Church in Maplewood, and to homeless visitors through the Interfaith Hospitality Network at St. Joseph's.
Besides the bounty of food, Leventhal told Patch, "The project created a sense of community, and educated youth and adults alike."
The vice mayor regretted that Community Garden organizer Irene Dunsavage was not present at the meeting to accept her congratulations and thanks.
The Community Garden was the source of some controversy when it was first proposed in 2010. After a Town Hall location was rejected initially due primarily to drainage concerns, the secondary selection of Orchard Park angered neighbors of that park who lamented the loss of play space and their perceived lack of a voice in the decision. Ultimately, the Town Hall site was approved with promises of drainage improvements from the Town. The garden proved sufficiently successful in 2010 to be expanded to two more locations in 2011.
Leventhal said that the Community Garden planned to continue planting in at least two locations in 2012 — behind Town Hall and at the Maplewood Community Pool near the First Aid Squad building on Boyden Avenue. The third location at Montrose School was in question due to the unsettled future of that school. Leventhal noted that the Montrose garden is outside of her purview as it it located in South Orange.
"The Montrose site has an active following which wants to turn the site into a neighborhood garden," explained Dunsavage in a later email exchange. "That's a major goal of our organization given the time and energy. The Master Gardeners of Essex County and we invested in it. Daria Knarvik is organizing that move."
Dunsavage also wrote, "Our members have worked hard to make the gardens a success and have reaped the rewards of that work. We have learned much from sharing ideas and honing in on the best gardening practices. We look forward to adding our new ideas to our repertoire."
Dunsavage said that gardeners would be meeting during the "quiet period" of January and February to perfect methods and to propogate plants for the new season. "Planting hopefully will begin in mid March." Dunsavage said that eager gardeners want to plant early this coming year.