Residents grow, harvest and share at community garden
In fertile patches of land at Fredericka Manor, residents have created their own little pieces of paradise. Roses, geraniums, sweet peas, corn, pumpkins, petunias, irises, fresh herbs and lavender are in bloom now, some rooted in the earth and neatly ringed with stones or springing forth from raised beds. Fredericka Manor’s community garden is alive with color and fragrance!
The serene patch of land nestled between the bocce court and Timken Lodge, has long been a place where residents can not only enjoy nature and grow fresh produce and flowers, but also embrace some peace and quiet away from the cares of the world.
The original community garden sprouted to reality many years ago when a group of residents who shared a passion for gardening proposed the idea. However, over time interest waned and soon the garden went fallow until a few years ago when a new generation of residents breathed new life into the land.
“All of our earth is a gift and we need to be good stewards,” said resident Richard Smith, who spearheaded the garden’s triumphant revival. “One day I was walking by what was once the old croquet court and started talking to another resident about reviving the old community garden. That day, I found a kindred spirit and we started talking to others. The enthusiasm grew particularly when we created the Fredericka Gardening Club.”
Craig Sumner, Fredericka Manor’s executive director, thought it was a great idea and asked staff to modify the area, including the installation of a new walking path for easy access.
Resident Linda Wright’s sweet peas and lavender are in full bloom now, a bright riot of purple and yellow amid the blue irises and vegetable greens. Across the path, pumpkins begin to emerge and cornstalks prepare to yield their summer bounty.
“In the spring and summer the community is alive with color, bird song and sweet fragrances,” Linda said. “It’s my favorite time to work in my garden and at the community garden. The best part is when I see other gardeners by my side enjoying what we love. It’s just a great time to appreciate living here.”
“Having this here helped me rekindle my love of gardening from when I was in my 20s,” said resident Hoppy Weiss, who planted and maintains milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. “I’m also growing tomatoes and my friend asked me to help him grow giant pumpkins.”
Residents’ requests for parcels are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis and the rules about using the community garden are simple: Just be a good neighbor. Keep your plot weeded and tidy, and be cognizant of neighboring plots while maintaining your own.
“This small but meaningful area brings so much to our lives by getting outdoors in the fresh air and taking care of our flowers, vegetables etc.,” Richard said. “We get exercise and the pride of having and maintaining that small but significant area. We’ve created a space where our residents will not only gather to grow food, but also a place where they can meet and interact directly with their neighbors.”