Friday, August 26, 2016

Maintaining a sustainable Windham through gardening - By Lorraine Glowczak

The word sustainability is used to describe many products, from wooden sunglasses to prefabricated toilet systems. However, in terms of gardening, the movement in sustainability, as Planet Natural describes it, “isn’t a commodity as much as it is a lifestyle. It has immediate as well as long term rewards.” The Windham Community Garden, created in 2010, was established to promote this very lifestyle as well as to provide for members of the Greater Windham community.

“Our mission is to follow organic practices, provide affordable garden beds and to promote a green and sustainable Windham”, stated Marge Govoni, co-chair of the Windham Community Garden Committee and one of the founders of the club. The Windham Garden Club’s website clearly states that it also strives to grow, harvest and distribute produce to those in need while serving as a community building and educational resource to all residents.

Govoni stated that the community garden committee began as a few interested individuals who saw a need for a sunny garden location for many in the Windham community. Govoni stated that she and other garden committee members realized that many Windham area residents have beautiful yards naturally landscaped profusely with beautiful trees.  However, as a result of shady conditions, homeowners find it difficult to grow a healthy and productive garden. Govoni said, “I felt that it would benefit the community to have a place where people who could not grow plants in their own yards would have a place to grow their own food.” Govoni and the other concerned individuals were correct regarding this community need, as there are on average, 50 to 60 gardeners who use the community gardens every season.

The community garden is located on Route 202, near the public safety building in Windham next to the skate park. The one acre of land available to the garden club is on loan from the Town of Windham and three quarters of that land is usable for gardening. The website states that the garden beds, 10’ x 20’ in size, are available to any Windham community member on a first come first serve basis with a cost of $30 per season. Organic compost along with some organic pesticide treatments are provided. Spigots have been installed and the water is provided by the town and fire department and is easily accessible to all garden plots.
As with any garden, pests are a major issue and concern. This year, the greatest challenge faced by the community garden was the vole population. Govoni stated that despite the fact that voles are very difficult to control, harvests has been outstanding despite them. Many community gardeners will donate the extra food produce to the Windham Food Pantry which is located on the other side of the public safety building.

The Windham Community Garden club meets approximately eight times a year, convening at one of the committee members’ homes. The organization is currently accepting new members, even as the fall season approaches. Sustainable gardening is a non-stop adventure that includes planning during the winter months. For those interested in joining, fill out an application on the website: For any specific questions or inquires, you can contact Govoni at 892-7192. Govoni stated, “anyone in the Windham community is welcomed to attend a committee meeting, member or not, to discover how great it is to be a part of this wonderful experience.” 

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