A New Year And Fresh Start For The Victory Garden

Pressing her trowel into sun-baked soil, Victory Garden volunteer Barbara Toomey started this season’s preparations for her row in the community garden.

Pulling at weeds and leftover plant husks and removing old plant supports, she glanced up as several other volunteers arrived Monday afternoon: “It’s our first time together [this season], I guess we’ll clean up,” adding, “we’ll need fresh mulch between the rows.”

Ms Toomey worked at the end of row 41, which the Transition Newtown organization and the Parks & Recreation Department maintain together. TransitionNewtown.com explains the group’s effort as “A vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience.” Eat locally, reduce waste, become more energy efficient, use sustainable energy are among the group’s goals.

Joining Ms Toomey were helping hands Allison Payne and Master Gardener Patricia Sabato. Arriving several minutes later was Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold.

Walking directly to a small fruit-tree grove of donated trees planted last season, Ms Sabato strode toward a honey crisp apple variety, saying it was the tree she had helped plant. Taking in the sunny day and the garden rows waiting to sustain fresh produce, all of which is donated to food pantries in town — she said, “I need to do this, this is my life.”

Moving toward the many rows, some already sprouting with spring bulbs of daffodils and tulips, she said, “Let’s see what came up so far.” Shading her eyes, she glanced around, looking for perennial herbs or maybe a strawberry plant. Reaching down to touch the leaves of what she suspected was not a vegetable, she said, “We’ve got a lot of weeding to do.”

The Victory Garden was started in 2011 with the simple, yet ambitious goal of providing fresh-grown local food to those served by Newtown’s FAITH Food Pantry.

A community garden on the Fairfield Hills campus near the Mile Hill South gate, it is a private space made up of many individually managed plots with generous support from the Parks & Recreation Department.

For those who would like to financially support the effort, checks can be made to Newtown Parks and Recreation Department: Park Gift Fund, with Victory Garden noted on the memo line, and mailed to Parks & Recreation, 3 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470. For more information, contact Amy Mangold at 203-270-4340 or Victory Garden Director Harvey Pessin at 203-241-0301 or harve9@yahoo.com.

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