Tilling The Land For The Victory Garden’s New Home

The scent of fresh-turned soil and dust on the breeze drifted across a “Beautiful, quiet field,” between Keating Farm Road and Mile Hill South Tuesday, May 7, said Harvey Pessin. He watched as Parks and Recreation machinery graded earth, preparing a new site for the community-oriented Victory Garden that he founded three years ago.

“This could not be a more lovely spot, and you don’t often hear me say that,” he said, looking across a space that will soon hold a 20,000-square-foot, half -acre garden — twice the size of the current garden. He envisions the room he will have for planting blueberry bushes and a small orchard in addition to the traditional herbs, vegetables, and flowers planted in the past. The site has water available and low road noise, a lot of sun, and a view of a “beautiful red barn.” The barn sits on private property across Mile Hill South.

Until Tuesday morning, Mr Pessin was unsure of where garden volunteers would be tending their rows this year. In past months, the Newtown Ambulance Association has come closer in its plans to break ground for a new garage that will take the space where the garden has grown for the past two years in Fairfield Hills across from Reed Intermediate School.

Will this site be a permanent home for the garden that supplies fresh produce for the FAITH Food Pantry and Nunnawauk Meadows? “You can’t quote me, or anybody on that,” he said. “No guarantees.”

He was “getting nervous,” he admitted. He hopes to plant by May 15, and as with many gardeners, he has started his seeds growing at home and will get them in the ground this month to yield summer crops.

The expanded garden will allow Mr Pessin to invite more groups to work the land. “I hate to turn anyone away,” he said. Thanks to a host of donations, financial and otherwise, the garden this year can include cherry and apple trees, and a professional mesh deer fence. He anticipated that grading would be done by Tuesday evening, and in coming days Parks and Recreation crews would bulldoze and backhoe the site: “It’s the easiest garden I have ever put in,” joked Mr Pessin. Soil will be improved with compost from New England Resources, but Mr Pessin wants to wait for the fence installation before putting plants in the ground. Wholesale supplier Planters Choice of Newtown will also provide seedlings.


Goals For The Year

His goal this year, as in the past, is to “set up the garden as a springboard for other groups to do things.” Explaining, he said that Eagle Scout projects have taken place at the garden, school groups have formed gardening teams, Ability Beyond Disability also tends a row. “It’s a community garden supported by the community,” he said.

He encourages people to use the garden to “teach children where food comes from,” he said. He is aware of several families that hope to teach their children to also raise and harvest food.

“This will be a great project,” he said. With the work under way, he will begin contacting past gardeners. Those wishing to form a group and tend a row should contact Mr Pessin at Harve9@yahoo.com. The garden has just a few rules: no use of herbicides or pesticides, all food is donated, and participants should come up with a funny gardening team name.

Learn more by visiting FoodPantryGarden.org.

The website announces to volunteers this year, “Volunteers should form teams, and will be given a 150-square-foot plot of garden. Each team should have a placard on its row with a team name, the funnier the better.

“There are no fees associated with the garden. No non-organic herbicides or pesticides are allowed in the garden. Fertilizers are allowed. All produce is to be donated to the needy.

“Last year’s volunteers get right of first refusal. Volunteers can ‘own a row,’ or volunteer on an ad hoc basis as the need arises. Since we have a lot more space, we can accommodate a lot more volunteers, so please pass this email around to friends and neighbors. Together, let’s make The Victory Garden the best of Newtown.”


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