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