Len­noxville’s ‘Grow­ing’ Community

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Len­noxville

Len­noxville’s Ox­ford Community Gar­den has be­gun its fourth sea­son and its pop­u­lar­ity has been grow­ing ev­ery year. Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the well-lo­cated site at one end of Ox­ford Park, the gar­den com­mit­tee’s pres­i­dent, Mau­reen Quigg, spoke

about how the gar­den came to be and about the ad­van­tages and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a ‘com­mu­nal’ gar­dener.

“The gar­den was es­tab­lished three years ago by the City of Sher­brooke. The city built the ca­bane, sup­plied all the tools and hoses, in­stalled three wa­ter sources, brought in the soil and built the gar­dens,” ex­plained Mrs. Quigg, who has lived in Len­noxville for fortythree years. For the first three years, the city man­aged and ad­min­is­tered the gar­den. It sup­plied new dirt ev­ery spring, did the re­pair work, and even pro­vided a re­source per­son for the gardeners.

“This year we had to form our own or­ga­ni­za­tion to take over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the gar­den. The city will give us $2,500 each year to buy sup­plies and they still sup­ply us with a re­source per­son,” ex­plained the pres­i­dent.

The gar­den is well­struc­tured to meet the vary­ing needs of its users, peo­ple of all dif­fer­ent ages and back­grounds who live in its vicin­ity. It has twenty-seven lots of dif­fer­ent sizes, in­clud­ing four raised beds for peo­ple with re­duced mo­bil­ity, four small plots for chil­dren, and sev­eral com­mu­nal plots for flow­ers, to at­tract pol­li­na­tors, and herbs that are shared. A high fence sur­rounds it, keep­ing out the deer who like to roam through the town.

“The gar­den was pop­u­lar from the get-go. We have se­niors, young adults, chil­dren, fam­i­lies; French and English. Some are novice and some are ex­pe­ri­enced, so there’s lots of ex­change of ideas go­ing on. I was thin­ning my beets one day when a man told me I could re­plant them. So I tried it and it worked!” said Mau­reen. Be­sides in­for­ma­tion, the gardeners share seedlings, seeds, ex­tra pro­duce and even wa­ter each other’s plots when needed. “A woman with re­duced mo­bil­ity joined but all our raised beds were al­ready taken. So she took a reg­u­lar bed and other gardeners weeded it for her.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mau­reen, one of the chal­lenges in run­ning a suc­cess­ful community gar­den is be­ing able to change the mind­set of the gardeners. “They need to un­der­stand that they have an obli­ga­tion to be re­spon­si­ble for the gen­eral state of the whole gar­den, not just their lot. Now, when they get their keys, they have to sign a con­tract. We don’t want to be the gar­den po­lice but it lets peo­ple know what their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are,” said Mrs. Quigg.

When I vis­ited with Mrs. Quigg at her home on Ox­ford Cres­cent, her bal­cony was ‘bulging’ with plants wait­ing anx­iously to be moved to the big gar­den. “I al­ways had a veg­etable gar­den so I was very en­thu­si­as­tic when they made the Community Gar­den here. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to do what they’ve done be­fore or try some­thing new. Ev­ery­one plants what they want, with a few ex­cep­tions like corn and pota­toes, and we get to try other peo­ple’s stuff, too.”

Mau­reen has one of the 25 square foot plots and it’s im­pres­sive how much food she can grow in it. She’ll be grow­ing peas, onions, let­tuce, car­rots, beets, parsnips, Swiss chard, pep­pers, cherry toma­toes, red toma­toes, green and yel­low beans, egg­plant, zuc­chini, cu­cum­bers, and ground cher­ries. She’ll plant her herbs in the com­mon area. “I’ll stag­ger my plant­ings of let­tuce and beets, and I’ll grow my root veg­eta­bles very close to­gether. If you pre­pare the soil well it can be very pro­duc­tive.”

“What I en­joy a lot is hav­ing all the great food. It’s fun to pick it and take it home and eat it. I also like work­ing and in­ter­act­ing with the other gardeners while tak­ing care of my gar­den. It’s re­ally a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple liv­ing in apart­ments,” con­cluded Mau­reen.

Quite a view for May 16, imag­ine SNOW from kitchen win­dow

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Mau­reen Quigg, seen here in the Ox­ford Community Gar­den which is be­gin­ning its fourth grow­ing sea­son, is the pres­i­dent of the gar­den’s new com­mit­tee.

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

One of the Community Gar­den’s younger gardeners cre­ated this fairy house in her plot.

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