Free labor, grant helps to manifest garden

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

(From left to right) Songo Garden Club (SGC) Treasurer Carmen Caron, SGC President Doug Bogdan, CrossWalk Community Outreach President Mark Clement and CrossWalk board member Nancy Vose pose next to the new sign for the Manna’ Fest Gardens, the community garden located behind the Naples Town Office. The garden club donated $500 to pay for the irrigation system, which was installed by H2O Irrigation System Specialists. (De Busk Photo)

NAPLES — CrossWalk Community Outreach has taken on a basic task – providing food for those who find it difficult to afford that necessity on a regular basis.

As struggling to “make ends meet” and put enough food on the family table has become a growing trend, so has the popularity of community gardens.

The Manna’ Fest Gardens expanded in its second year – thanks to a grant and the commitment of local volunteers, according to Nancy Vose, a CrossWalk Board member who is simultaneously involved in the Naples-based Songo Garden Club.

“The purpose of this garden is to help people eat more vegetables when they go to the food pantry,” Vose said.

“One of the most important things for the board is healthy food. We have vegetables all throughout the winter,” she said.

With the assistance of the Songo Garden Club and the owner of H2O Irrigation System Specialists, a watering system was installed. While much of the labor was volunteer, and community members donated the plants, a grant helped pay for the infrastructure that will sustain gardens for future growing seasons.

“Logistically, getting the irrigation system in there was a big deal,” Vose said.

Already, in the five raised garden beds, a variety of future produce is growing. Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, and eggplant flourish in the sun. Also, there are cucumbers, onions, peppers, green beans, wax beans and cabbage.

The yield from the community garden will be used in the preparation of hot meals. Those free meals are provided every other Monday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Naples Town Office gymnasium.

Vose envisions encouraging food pantry participants to dedicate a few hours to the garden’s well-being. Also, local gardeners can be relied upon to teach food pantry participants how to utilize their yard space and grow a garden at home, she said.

Currently, about 150 families use the food pantry services; and new families sign up each time the pantry is open, according to Vose.

“CrossWalk is always attempting to extend the vegetables and healthy foods for those who attend the pantry,” Vose said.

Also, there are several local residents who are available to teach good gardening techniques, she said.

 

Citizens and businesses that would like to contribute financial donations, can mail those to: CrossWalk Community Outreach, P.O. Box 64, Naples, Maine, 04055.

The Songo Garden Club meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Naples Grange Hall. The club invites speakers to its meetings, and sometimes goes on field trips to local gardens. To contact, send an email message to songogarndenclubnaples@yahoo.com.

 

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