Should Westford have a community garden? That was the question that a packed house at the Rogers Fire Station addressed last week as members of the Agricultural Commission, farmers and local residents gathered to mull over the topic.
A possible community garden became a initiative for the Agricultural Commission after input during this summer’s Strategic Planning Retreat, where the idea garnered a significant amount of interest from participants.
The most likely spot would be a piece of land on the corner of Coldspring and Graniteville roads known as the Day Property, just across from St. Mark’s Church.
Currently the Day Property is under the custody of the Conservation Commission.
If the plan becomes a reality, the garden will likely have to be staffed entirely by volunteer efforts due to a lack of municipal resources available to take care of the project.
Some options include an intensive fruit and vegetable garden with a possible “pick-your-own” option, a flower garden, an “incubator” farm for launching farmers, a retail space for smaller local community supported agriculture farms (also known as CSAs), an “educational” farm where community members can learn more about agriculture or even a community beekeeping center.
With a large number of issues left to dissect ranging from possible finances to infrastructure, the dream of a community garden in Westford still has a long way to go before it becomes reality. However, for participants of the meeting such as Sarah Nolan, the night was time well spent.
“I thought (tonight) was a great way to come together as a community and explore new ideas for the space,” said Nolan. “It’s an interesting project, I think it would bring the community together to explore new ideas about growing locally and help people learn more about farming.”
Members of the Agricultural Commission were also satisfied with the initial response, although there is a sense that it was just the first step of many if a community garden is to become a reality.
“We’re delighted with the enthusiasm and we have our work cut out for us because we know our community expects a lot of us,” says Elizabeth Almeida, chairwoman of the Agricultural Commission and operator of the Fat Moon Farm. “We appreciate peoples’ participate and we’ll keep them appraised as we go forward.”
Almeida went on to note that she believes the project is feasible given the fact that several communities near Westford already operate community gardens and that the next step is to examine potential best practices for the potential project.