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Pawtucket, RI: Community Garden Sprouts in Attleboro

  • Subject: [cg] Pawtucket, RI: Community Garden Sprouts in Attleboro
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 06:28:42 EDT

Pawtucket Times 
Community garden sprouts in Attleboro   
David Casey     

ATTLEBORO - Besides bushels of organic fruits and vegetables, the Attleboro 
Area Community Garden was designed to cultivate community spirit. 
Since 1998 the urban oasis has been bringing people of all nationalities, 
ethic, socioeconomic and levelsof gardening expertise to an excavated, 
municipally-owned parking lot in downtown Attleboro. Today, the garden will host its 
seventh season opening from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the corner of Hayward and 
Hodges Streets. 

Garden Coordinator Mark Pechenik said the garden has gained momentum over the 
years, exceeded its founders' admittedly idealistic hopes and expectations.

"In 1998 there were more minority groups moving into the city and myself and 
a small group of concerned citizens came up with the garden concept as a way 
to bring these disparate elements of a diverse community together. We've had 
all people from all walks of life, from a husband and wife pair who had both 
been raised on a farm, to people who didn't know the color of dirt. We've had 
people of Hispanic, African and Asian descent, immigrants and locals, girl scouts 
and the mentally and physically disabled. If anything, we've gotten more 
diverse over the years." 

Back in the late 1990s then- Mayor Judy Robbins pledged her support to the 
group on condition that it operate it community garden under the umbrella of a 
reputable non-profit organization.

Shortly thereafter the Attleboro Area Community Garden was born; a joint 
venture of the Attleboro Land Trust, of which Pechenik's group became a committee, 
and the City of Attleboro, which provided the land, compost and an on-site 
water tank. Without the city's help, said Pechenik, the project would have had a 
difficult time finding a parcel of land that wasn't contaminated with the 
by-products of Attleboro's thriving, once-unregulated jewelry manufacturing 

The garden itself consists of 36 four by nine-foot plots - large enough to 
grow plenty of fresh produce, small enough to be accessible to the elderly and 
physically handicapped.

Interested gardeners are invited to stop by the garden site Saturday 
afternoon to resister for a plot, or two, or three. All registrants are required to 
sign a contract and provide a $10 donation for the purchase of soil, seeds and 
tools. Some plots are leased by solitary gardeners, whole families and local 
organizations such as the local chapter of ARC (Association of Retarded 
Children) and Fresh Start, an organization committed to immigrant assimilation.

Vegetables range from the conventional to the extraordinary.

"We have some plots with just flowers, some with kale, carrots and tomatoes," 
said Pechenik. "One year we had Cambodian family of expert farmers. I don't 
know what they were growing, but it looked really good."

Plots are usually available after opening day, but pickings are typically 
slim. The plots are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the plots 
closest to the water tank going first.

After their garden is planted gardeners have unlimited access to their plots. 
There are no fences - the idea is to have an open, public garden - and the 
only rule is that everything must be grown organically - no pesticides or 
Miracle Grow allowed.

Pechenik said he sees some minor picking late in the season - homeless and 
hungry people will occasionally grab a vegetable here and there - but the 
community, by and large, respects the garden.

Vandalism and large-scale looting, he said, is almost nonexistent.

"This garden was conceived as a way to bring the community together, to give 
people of different backgrounds an activity that would be mutually 
interesting," said Pechenik. "I think this garden is a symbol of that cooperation."     

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

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