Community gardens; where it is easy to gather at a distance - BlueStone Press
July 1, 2022

Community gardens; where it is easy to gather at a distance


The Rosendale Community Garden is really doing well. Just seven years in the making and every available plot is planted.

It has synchronistic origins. In 2012, the Tillson Community Church member Barbara said, “One day while raking up dusty sand, several church members received the same vision for a community garden.” The congregation had a dumping problem; the big field adjacent to the church property on the right provided easy access for dumping. In a ‘build it and they will come’ way the congregation decided to clear the trees and try to get a community garden put in. One congregation member had know-how and the equipment to cut down trees and grind up stumps. Once they decided to do it, the back yard was clear-cut by the end of the year.

Since 2013, the Rosendale community garden has had about seven active gardeners, and another nine non-gardening support staff. This year there are 14-planted plots, and 13 active gardeners. Each year the community comes together in June to cut the scapes off the garlic and share them, and in July to harvest the garlic shares. The garlic bed is planted with buckwheat until planting garlic in the fall as a group with the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and Social Club serenading followed by a potluck.

Amy Trompetter of Redwing Blackbird Theater remembers the beginnings of the search for a community garden site in Rosendale. Trompetter said, “Susan Gillispie, and I were participating in the Mid-Atlantic transition initiative led by Pamela Boyce Simms with the idea of establishing a Transition chapter in Rosendale. Their online profile states: ‘The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.’ I continued my involvement with Transition as Susan became engaged in other initiatives. Forming a community garden seemed a realistic first goal.”

A group of locals interested in sustainable practices met to discuss possible applications in Rosendale. Main street residents at the meeting did not have a yard to garden in, and hoped to find a site within walking distance. The town land on Creeklocks was investigated but did not work out.

Barbara said, “Melinda Wright told me there was going to be a meeting about community gardens in Rosendale behind the movie theater. I went to the meeting and presented our idea and the rest is history.” The first goal was to build a fence. Cobra Systems in Bloomington donated of 200 ft of 6-inch chain-link fencing with posts and a gate. Pavlov of Anchor Fencing Systems also donated 200 feet of chain-link fencing, posts, a gate and hardware to the gardens. The garden purchased 200 feet of top rail ($200), the cost of which will be split between the garden fund and the church. Capable volunteers showed up to help install the fence. Croswell Enterprises, Inc. donated the first load of compost, others donated tools, a picnic table, and equipment. Group members helped however they could, lending their skills and taking turns with tasks. Some helped with building a raised bed for handicap access, and Ray always helped out by cutting the grass.

Behind the garden plot is a majestic grove of almost 10 acres of towering red pine trees. Cathy, the neighbor over the fence and her daughter, Sharon have watched the garden blossom with interest. Sharon said “I love it that I can see the sunflowers over the top of the fence.” Sharon has studied geology and said “The glacial outwash dropped a lot of sand in the Tillson area and some spots range in the depth and can be as much as 200 feet of sand. About 10 years ago a series of wells were dug by machines and found that the sand went deeper than initially expected.”

A wealth of information, Cathy told us that the red pines were planted there as an experiment to see how well they would do in the sandy soil. Apparently in the 1900s and in 1950 many red pines were planted in the northeast because they do well in sandy soil, are pest resistant, and are quick-growing.

The garden is becoming more abundant through mulching the sandy soil to hold the moisture adding nutrients, blocking off easy bunny rabbit access with digging fencing into the ground, using sonic mole repellents. Gardeners are sharing bounty with friends because they have so much. The next planned event is the garlic planting and potluck on Sunday, Oct. 18 at noon.



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