Community gardens are one of the best ways to bring people together around common goals while taking real steps toward a more sustainable future. That’s certainly been the case in Presque Isle during the second year of the Presque Isle Community Garden.
The Presque Isle Community Garden, focused on offering sustainable vegetable gardening and habitat for pollinators, has been a collaborative effort from the start. The Presque Isle Housing Authority contributed some space next to its community center as a home for the gardens. The gardens are bordered by a small wooded area and some evergreens between the garden and the building, which also houses a daycare center. A 4-H club project initially helped establish the community garden.
In this second year of operation, the project has grown to include a wooden shed for garden tools and supplies, a perennial border, an apple orchard with 19 trees, and two small berms, one planted to blueberry and raspberry bushes, and the other featuring two ornamental lilac bushes and a spirea shrub.
Volunteers installed ten raised beds—four during the Spring Fling workday, and an additional six in the fall. A 55-gallon rain collection barrel, exceptionally durable in cold weather, provides water for the gardens. In early spring, the group overseeing the project will plant seeds to grow flowers that will attract a mix of insects that help pollinate crops. They have already spread lupine seeds on one area near the raised beds.
The soil in the area is naturally slow to drain, so the group worked some local humus and sand into the beds. Presque Isle Community Garden chose the solarization method to suppress weed growth and germination in the meadow. The project also benefited from the donation of organic compost and shredded bark mulch. Both will enhance the soil, while the bark mulch should keep the weeds down in the walkways between the beds and around the perennials.
This season, participants raised vegetables in the beds, with some used to provide donations to senior citizens and low-income individuals. Children at the daycare center planted and maintained one of the beds. 4-H members also planted and maintained gardens. Tomatoes, potatoes, and lettuce were the dominant crops for this year. Gardeners installed metal plant labels to identify perennials, fruit trees, and shrubs.
NRCM’s Sustainable Maine Project was pleased to award a Local Sustainability Initiative Seed Grant to The Presque Isle Community Garden, which will continue to grow and improve. Future plans include increasing organic matter in the soil to improve soil quality and the nutrient density of the food. The group also plans to recruit additional gardeners to maintain their own plots and to help grow food for donation to local agencies. Area residents will be encouraged to participate and to visit the gardens, making this initiative a wonderful way to educate and enhance the lives of others in the Presque Isle community. A registered arborist will provide and help graft apple rootstock after initial growth.
This is a great project off to a great start with incredible potential to create a stronger, more sustainable community!
All photos are courtesy of Presque Isle Community Garden and Alice Sheppard
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