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Gardeners Plan For Spring In Victory Garden



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Gardeners Plan For Spring

In Victory Garden

By Kendra Bobowick

Wednesday’s snow did not stop a roomful of gardeners and interested volunteers from attending the Victory Garden kickoff meeting as members looked ahead to the coming spring.

With a jab at winter’s mild weather — except for a snowfall on the day of the gardening meeting Wednesday, February 29 — Victory Garden founder Harvey Pessin said, “Thank you all for coming out on this first day of winter…”

The garden, meant to provide produce for the town’s food pantries, is coming up on its second season. Mr Pessin nodded to his wife Brid Craddock, also the meeting’s organizer, as she greeted guests who would soon hear from speakers Sheila Torres of Newtown and Nick Mancini of Westport.

Sherry Burmingham, a friend of Mr Pessin and Ms Craddock, welcomed guests including master gardeners and Garden Club of Newtown members Holly Kocet, Diane Baumer, Joyce DeWolfe, and Terry Merola.

“We support the [Victory] garden,” Ms Kocet said. “I love the idea of providing food for the pantries.”

“It’s a lot of work,” said Ms Baumer, “But worth it.” Nodding her head, Ms Merola agreed.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Amy Mangold glanced at the faces around the room saying, “It’s a good turnout for such an ungardenlike day.” Her department did much of the site work for the garden’s current location, and will continue to help Mr Pessin and volunteers.

To the master gardeners, several of last year’s volunteers, and a few new faces, he brought guests up to date on “good news.” One grant has provided Mr Pessin with an irrigation system, he said, while another pending grant could bring fruit trees to the garden.

Relaying other recent news, he explained that the garden, currently in Fairfield Hills on a plot facing Reed Intermediate School across Wasserman Way, may have to relocate to make room for the Newtown Ambulance Association’s proposed new building.

“Is the garden going to stay or move? My best answer is I don’t know,” Mr Pessin said. “But, there will be a Victory Garden.” This coming season’s location is secure, but future years may see a relocation, he said.

Would he need a show of support at town meetings regarding the move? He said town officials are “bending backwards to help,” he said. “Everyone wants us to succeed, everyone.” He foresees no complications, he said.

With the garden’s first season behind him, he looks ahead with hope to the coming year. “Going in, we’re all brighter, stronger…”

Speaker Sheila Torres is a Victory Garden volunteer and believes in the “power that gardening has to rebuild and strengthen communities and individuals,” according to background information she handed to guests Wednesday. She spoke about permaculture, defined in her handout as “the process of designing our lives based on nature and seeing ourselves as part of nature.” Its principles include the design of sustainable systems that promote permanence, and promoting and supporting beneficial relationships.

Before she got up to speak she had said, “I know we want to take the garden in that direction.”

Mr Mancini spoke about macro and micronutrients, organic gardening, and joked before the meeting, “I have summer every night.” He and his wife enjoy fresh produce even in the cold months thanks to his greenhouse growing. “We had our last tomatoes on Valentine’s Day,” he said, thanks to a lighted growing system for the plants in his basement.

The Victory Garden, which supplies produce to the town’s food pantries, is located in Fairfield Hills and is administered through Newtown’s Parks and Recreation Department. The Victory Garden delivered 2,800 pounds of produce in 2011.

Contact Mr Pessin at 203-241-0301, or e-mail him at Harve9@yahoo.com. Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold can be reached at 203-270-4340. Learn more about Mr Mancini’s gardening and upcoming workshops at OrganicGardeningSimplified.com.

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