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East Longmeadow Community Gardens opens to the public

June 5, 2014 |

The community gardens on the Brown Farm property are now open to the public.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW – At long last things have finally sprouted at the community gardens on the Brown Farm property.

The community gardens, which were eligible for Community Preservation Act funding under the recreation category, officially opened to the public this spring after the Department of Public Works (DPW) assisted in the installation of a new gravel driveway and watering systems.

“Wilbraham’s done it for years, there was [a submission] in The Reminder last week about how long Hampden has been doing it, so all the surrounding towns are way ahead of us,” Heather Cunningham, founder of the Friends of the Brown Farm, said. “It’s about time we got into things.”

While some plots were ready for planting last year, all of the plants in the garden were donated by Meadowbrook Farm for the purpose of growing food for the Pleasant View Senior Center’s food pantry.

Hoping to start out with approximately 15 plots open to residents this year, Cunningham said she has been inundated with requests.

“We were trying to keep it small, but now we have 30 [plots],” she said. “We signed up 15, then put people on a waiting list as we tried to accommodate everyone and I’m still getting calls.”

Because of the interest, Cunningham said she hopes to expand the gardens further on the other side of the driveway in order to create an additional 10 to 12 plots at some point.

While there are a multitude of plots for personal use, the community gardens will still provide for those in need through a “giving garden,” which in addition to food will have space for perennials to be sold at the Garden Club’s annual plant sale.

“People have volunteered to help with that in addition to their own garden plots and we’re always looking for more volunteers to help or to donate plants,” Cunningham said, later adding that wheelbarrows and hoses are also always needed.

Throughout the process of planning and installing the gardens, Cunningham said the residents, local businesses and town departments have been “incredibly accommodating.”

In addition to the DPW and the Community Preservation Commission, Cunningham credited members of the Planning Board, specifically chair Michael Carabetta as well as members Alessandro Meccia and Ralph Page, both of whom own landscaping services and have provided insight and labor.  Resident Michael Smith of Smith Associates Surveyors provided the survey required for the project and Expert Tree Service, also of East Longmeadow, cleared trees necessary to facilitate the building of the gardens. John Bernie of Meadowbrook Farms plowed the fields free of charge and Gary Turnberg also aided in their preparation.

Those interested in the community gardens can contact Cunningham at 224-1577 or newhouse44@charter.net.

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