Friday, March 15, 2024

Season nearing for Windham’s Community Garden

By Kaysa Jalbert

Looking to plant vegetables, herbs, or flowers this spring but don’t have the yard space for it? Starting May 1, or as soon as spring decides to arrive, the Windham Community Garden will open for residents to plant what they please and enjoy the peace that accompanies gardening.

Growing spaces at the Windham Community Garden on
Gray Road in Windham will be available for $35 for the 
2024 season. Gardeners from Windham and nearby
communities are welcome to use the spaces tp grow
vegetables and flowers with access to water available.
The Windham Community Garden is located on Route 202, just down from the Public Safety building and next to the skate park. The garden occupies approximately 1 acre of land loaned by the town and three quarters of that land is usable for gardening.

“People come to garden for the tranquility of it,” says Marge Govoni, Co-Chair of the Windham Community Garden. “Now, that sounds kind of silly because we are on right on 202 and it does have some traffic, but I can tell you when you're in there and you're gardening you are alone. We have a lot of people who grow stuff there and they share stuff with their neighbors. Getting your hands on the dirt, growing your own food, and then consuming it is a really great feeling.”

Garden beds are on a first-come first-serve basis to any Windham or neighboring community member. They are 10 feet by 20 feet plots and cost $35. The Community Garden supplies gardeners with all of the necessary tools such as wheelbarrows, rakes, and some pesticides with water spigots located around the garden for use.

They also supply organic compost that comes from Benson’s Farm in Gorham and uses lobster shells in its blend. Members of the garden are typically Windham locals or people from neighboring towns who don’t have access to a yard or gardening area.

“It's a lot of times folks who you probably would see visiting a farmers’ market because they prefer to know where their food came from, also it's fresher if you grow it, you know exactly what you put into it so you don't have to worry about pesticides or the process it went through and it's good,” Govoni said. “Oh my gosh, it tastes so good.”

There is one thing that the Windham Community Garden Committee asks members not to plant and that’s potatoes. Govoni said that potatoes bring potato bugs that will eat everything and anything, causing problems for one’s own garden and others.

Nature itself is unpredictable and can raise some challenges for the garden as roaming animals such as deer and groundhogs search for food. To counter these challenges, the garden committee has set up a fence, placed various humane traps and arranged netting around the sheds where groundhogs tend to settle under.

Voles, however, can be a big problem for gardeners. Voles are small, hard-to-catch rodents related to hamsters and can produce up to 50 babies per season.

Govoni says to combat this issue the garden committee uses surround, a very thin covering like a cloth that lets in rain and sunlight. There is a minimal fee for the surround, and it comes in a large roll from which a community gardener can take as much as they need.

“I planted radishes and beets one time,” said Govoni. “And I only planted them once because I discovered that when the voles come along, I wouldn’t care if they ate it all, but they would just take a bite out of everything.”

The Community Garden was created in 2010 by a core group of individuals who thought a community garden was needed and would be well received and it was. The idea grew and in the first official growing season of 2011 they had 39 gardeners sign up and 37 completed the full season.

Originally the garden was on a smaller piece of property, but committee members went to the town before they decided to put a community park in and asked for it to be expanded. Now with more room to grow, they average between 80 to 90 beds with remaining space to add more if necessary.

The Windham Community Garden is always looking for new members who have a passion for gardening to join their committee and help upkeep the garden. Everyone is welcome but Govoni voiced interest in gaining younger members to help take on roles for some years to come.

If you show interest in joining the committee you can visit the contact page on the Windham Community Garden Website at<

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