Is the Avon Community Garden Worth the Effort

Community Garden in June
Community Garden in June

With $2,000 in Township funds budgeted towards the Avon Community Garden and Food Pantry Production Farm and an anticipated harvest of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of fresh vegetables, it may be time to think about scaling back in the future. Last year a lot of the major work such as the tilling was donated by local firms but this year it was paid for by budgeted funds. The overall size of the community garden was increased over 50% with an expected yield to exceed last years 1,000 pound harvest.

The Daily Herald ran an article about a neighboring school district that purchased about 45 acres of open land several years ago anticipating an increase in enrollment that never happened. Now the Superintendent is toying with the idea of having students start a garden, each maintaining one plant to start out with. If it becomes a school project rather than a volunteer program, it might have a chance of succeeding.

Looking back at the initial day of planting of the Avon Community Garden where nobody showed up except Wendy Warden,  head of the Avon Township Community Foundation, her husband, David, and myself, might have been an early indication of what would follow. The rescheduled planting day also had limited participation, again an early indicator.

Private plots were all rented
Private plots were all rented

What went wrong this season compared to last season? Can we blame it all on the intense heat spell? I think not since many of us with gardens still maintained them and reaped a decent harvest. It wasn’t for lack of water, even it it didn’t rain, since additional water barrels were made available. You might ask why the people utilizing the food pantry didn’t pitch in more to make the garden the success that was hoped for. You also might ask why the people showing up to do court ordered community service hours didn’t spend more time in the garden. With all of the available public plots rented the impact on the budgeted funds was minimal. Almost all of the private plots were rented at the lower amount since they agreed to let the food pantry have any excess produce on a weekly basis. Looking at the photos below taken on September 6th, it doesn’t appear as though that agreement reaped much since most of the sites are just a weed jungle and an eyesore to the townhouse owners who have to look at them. The Foundation and the Township will definitely have to address this lack of sufficient volunteers prior to spending any money or turning any soil next year.

Overgrown private plots - Some were never planted
Overgrown private plots - Some were never planted
This was where those beautiful cabbages were growing
This was where those beautiful cabbages were growing
This is what the townhouse owners get to look at which wouldn't be allowed in most villages
This is what the townhouse owners get to look at which wouldn't be allowed in most villages
Lack of volunteers leaves vegetables rotting in the fields
Lack of volunteers leaves vegetables rotting in the fiields

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