Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Community Effort

Where gardeners gather to grow their own.



Pity the would-be gardeners who have long dreamed of growing heirloom tomatoes in their backyard. Discouraged by the many obstacles that bedevil them here in Wilton—too much shade, hungry deer, and thin, rocky soil—they resort to store-bought vegetables instead. Yet, there are those who refuse to admit defeat. For these tenacious growers, Wilton’s community garden at Allen’s Meadow is a veritable sanctuary, offering optimum growing conditions, a peaceful setting, and the camaraderie of like-minded individuals.

“I always wanted to garden, but it didn’t work at my house,” says Emma Sutherland, who has maintained a garden at Allen’s Meadow for the past two years. “There wasn’t enough light, there were too many critters, and it’s much more social at the community garden.” During the height of the growing season, Emma harvests an assortment of vegetables, including carrots, beans, corn, peas, eggplants, melons, and tomatoes, as well as herbs, pumpkins, and gourds. The companionship of others and the knowledge they share amongst themselves is one of the key selling points. “When I put up my fence, I started digging a trench below it to fill with chicken wire, so I could keep the critters out. But then Ira Kraus came over and said, ‘Forget it—that’s too much work!’ and told me to lay the wire flat on the ground next to the fence instead to keep the larger animals from burrowing under it. It worked!” Emma marvels.

Kraus’s experience and generosity with his heirloom vegetable plants has garnered him near cult status with the rest of the gardeners. “Ira is a farmer and really knows what he’s doing,” says Ethel Sebastian, who has tended a garden there for two decades. “I learned from him that when the ends of the watermelons are dry, they’re ripe,” she says. “We all share plants and ideas. You can have a conversation with the person gardening in the plot next to you and commiserate if things don’t turn out right.”

Given the enthusiasm of those who garden at Allen’s Meadow, one would expect a stampede of residents clamoring for a plot, yet that is hardly the case. Located unceremoniously across from the town’s large dirt pile, in the meadow behind The Greens at Cannondale, the garden goes virtually unnoticed. Although the garden has been in its present location since 1975, most parents watching their children play soccer a few hundred feet away have no idea it exists. Unlike community gardens in Westport, Darien, and Norwalk, which boast their own websites and waiting lists, Wilton’s is decidedly low-key. Set on an acre and a half of land, it consists of roughly 40 plots, available to residents through the Parks & Recreation Department on a first-come, first-served basis for a nominal fee. The town plows the land in early spring, making it easy for gardeners to sow their crops in the loose soil.

In years past, the community garden was largely under-utilized. According to Pat Sidas, who has gardened there for over 20 years, many would-be gardeners were discouraged by the lack of a convenient water source for their plants. “There used to be a hand pump, but it was stolen, and after that the well was vandalized. A lot of people threw in the towel,” she recalls. “But two years ago, the town installed a spigot that runs on town water, and people can hook their hoses up to it. Now we have a lot more people gardening here.” To be sure, maintaining a garden plot at Allen’s Meadow is still a lot of work. Unlike the community gardens in neighboring towns, Wilton’s garden is unfenced. Yet, Wilton’s offers several significant advantages over the other community gardens. To begin with, double plots measuring a spacious 20 feet by 50 feet provide ample room to plant a variety of crops, including those, like pumpkins and melons, which love to sprawl. For a gardener like Ethel, who grows 42 different types of tomatoes as well as other vegetables, the generously sized plots are a godsend. “This is such a good place to garden. It’s sunny all day long, and the soil is really good,” declares Pat.

Jim Hunter, who teaches environmental science at the high school, concurs. Each year, his students perform tests on soil samples taken from various spots at Allen’s Meadow, and their results reveal the site to be a true gardener’s Eden. “The garden sits on a flood plain, so it has rich, fertile soil,” he explains. “The topsoil there is really thick, anywhere from eight to sixty inches deep, and it doesn’t have a lot of rocks in it,” he says. “And it has a ton of nutrients in it.”

It’s no wonder, then, that the gardens are so prolific. Witness the bounty fairly bursting from Pat’s garden—rows and rows of brightly colored marigolds and zinnias, and a wide assortment of vegetables. “This year, I grew ‘Silver Queen’ and ‘Golden Bantam’ corn, pickling cukes, and ‘Straight Eight’ cucumbers,” she says, with obvious satisfaction.

As the gardeners are quick to point out, the produce is just one of the many rewards the garden offers. “I find it to be very relaxing—like therapy—and it’s a great family experience,” Ethel says.

Echoing her sentiments, Emma adds, “It’s so peaceful here. It really slows down time for me.” And ultimately, the garden offers her a sense of accomplishment. “I’ll stand in my garden and think, This is mine!”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

               

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Fancy Greenery

Ferns are hearty and have few pest or disease issues

Defensive Gardening

Overcoming the Perils of Deer, Rocks, and Tree Roots

Deer-resistant Perennials

Master Gardener Pat Glass' list

Garden Squared

Growing organic produce in your backyard

GIY: Grow It Yourself

Tips for a successful vegetable garden

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On November 11 from 12 – 3 p.m. bring your knitting projects or spinning wheels and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with seasoned knitters and spinners. They will coach you on your knitting challenges...

Cost: free, but donations in support of our fleecy flock will be welcomed!

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

A chamber concert of music for handbells, featuring varied bell ensembles -- solos (one ringer, many bells), duets, quartets, sextets and more -- performing popular classics in a singular way. This...

Cost: Free, with donations welcome: $20 suggested.

Where:
WEPCO Parish Hall
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

The Sanctuary Series begins its 2018-2019 Season on Sunday afternoon, November 11, with "Studies in Virtuosity" featuring Ukrainian-Canadian pianist Dmitri Levkovich in the Sanctuary of the South...

Cost: $15 to $50

Where:
South Salem Presbyterian Church
111 Spring Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: The Sanctuary Series
Telephone: 914-763-5402
Contact Name: Mary Jane Newman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A Grammy Award-winning son of the legendary Bob Marley, Stephen continues his father’s legacy with forward-thinking reggae. In addition to his critically acclaimed, award-winning solo albums,...

Cost: $56

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Playhouse
Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for a FREE lecture! Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. However, the fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Learn strategies for preventing falls and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Health Tully Health Center
32 Strawberry Hill Court
1st Floor Auditorium
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: HSS Sports Rehab
Telephone: 203-705-2933
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Wednesday, November 14th at 4:00 PM. Open to all ages. Decorate an apple with candy to make it look like a turkey! This event is free and no registration is required. Co-sponsored with the NS...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday, November 17th from 12:00 - 3:00 PM for kids K+. Plan on staying with your children and having fun together.   This year’s annual STEAMFEST will feature Mad Science’s special...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On Saturday November 17 at 6 p.m. join a wonderful team of astronomers and view planets, stars, and constellations. Note: Families are invited to a special preview in the Learning Center...

Cost: $4/New Pond Farm member ($16 max/family), $6/non-member ($24 max/family)

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags