Donor breathes life into plans for second community garden

Caring for green and growing life can be relaxing and fulfilling as a passtime — though it’s pretty demanding as an occupation. And gardening — surely among humankind’s oldest pursuits — may be available to a larger number of Ridgefielders next spring.

With a donor’s help, plans are starting to come together for a second community garden, this one on the Farmingville Elementary School property. The possibility was discussed at the Board of Selectmen’s July 17 meeting.

The town has a long-established community garden off Halpin Lane, which in 2017 was named the Edith Meffley Garden in honor of the former Ridgefielder and longtime Conservation Commission member who founded it.

“The public garden we have,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark, “it’s very hard to get into — right?”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said people are waiting for plots.

“There’s a list,” he said.

The idea of a second community garden had been explored a few years back, but it didn’t get very far after estimates for putting in a well to provide water for the garden came in at about $13,000, Marconi said.

“What brought this back to the table, a person came forward offering to donate this project,” Marconi said.

Student intern Jennifer Kramer made a report to the selectmen on the potential for a second community garden in Ridgefield.

“This will be at Farmingville, right by the barn,” she said.

Kramer said a community garden 37 feet by 46 feet could accommodate 20 plots on the site, and a garden 37 feet by 92 feet could contain 40 plots.

“Each of these plots will be five feet by nine feet, and two feet between plots,” she said.

“As far as gardening goes, is that a good size?” asked Kozlark.

“If we went any bigger, it would be too big,” said Kramer.

Kramer said a wire fence could be put down three feet into the earth to keep out animals such as rabbits and groundhogs.

“It’s environmentally friendly,” she said. “There’s no electricity involved. They don’t get hurt.”

The selectmen asked how the plots would be distributed among people wanting them.

“I guess it would be first come, first served,” Kramer said.

Marconi said later that people interested in plots could contact the first selectman’s office. The target date to open the garden is next spring.

“There will be a need to create some parking,” Maroni told fellow selectmen.

He said there were lots of possibilities for Farmingville School to get involved.

“They can bring the classes out and they can have their own plots,” he said.

The selectmen were supportive.

“I know there’s a real need for this,” said Selectwoman Kozlark.