After about five years of preparation, the Summit Neighborhood Community garden has finally gone to seed.
On Earth Day – Saturday, April 22 – the hardy gardeners braved a slight drizzle to distribute mulch along the paths between the raised beds, which had been filled with soil the previous weekend. In addition to the mulching, there were free seeds offered to the public from the supply provided to the workers by the University of Rhode Island as well as starter plants for sale. This was in conjunction with the Parks Department’s city-wide cleanup activities.
Already, some of the beds have seeds planted and sections laid out, with more to come as the weather improves. It is the culmination of a project begun by the Summit Neighborhood Association about five years ago.
SNA started with extensive public-opinion polling of the neighborhood as to interest in community gardens as well as fears that the effort would reduce the area for children in the traditional “tot lot.”
As about 80 percent of the poll respondents gave a favorable reaction to the concept of gardens, the Parks Department got on board with a design to refurbish the entire playground as well as lay out the gardens. Several public meetings were held to introduce the plan and react to suggestions. More polling about the specifics of the proposal were done and met with general approval.
Miriam Hospital was approached for funds and enthusiastically responded, with the garden part of the project to be done first. SNA continues to work with the city on completing the playground renewal.
A core group of garden planners was established and they took over the implementation of the design, putting in weeks of organizing and ultimately building fences and raised beds. People who worked on the project from the beginning were guaranteed plots, with the rest to be determined by a lottery. Fortunately, the number of gardeners seeking plots exactly matched the number of plots available.
Still to come in the garden is a work shed to be provided by the Parks Department, which already had installed a water line.
But the green thumbs of the gardeners have been busy and seeds have been planted. As the vegetables and flowers grow, so will the opportunity for the children in the park to participate and learn from the blossoming community gardens.