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Bellingham Partners with YMCA on Organic Community Garden

Jul 30, 2018 01:00PM ● By David Dunbar

BULLETIN photos by Adrian Johnson

written by DAVE DUNBAR, Contributing Writer 

The half-acre community garden you may have driven by at 200 Center Street in Bellingham is rapidly approaching peak growing season. 

Over the summer, a bountiful harvest will benefit community garden members, volunteers, and a variety of local non-profit organizations including the food pantry at St. Blaise church.

The garden is a cooperative project between the Hockomock YMCA and the town of Bellingham. “We’re thrilled to be part of this project,” said the YMCA’s Director of Community Wellness MaryKate Bergen. “Our aim is to provide access to locally grown, healthy food and also integrate workshops and educational opportunities.”

You can participate in the Bellingham Community Farm by becoming a member and purchasing a “share,” or by volunteering your time. The growing season runs from June through October and the share price is $525; but Bergen added, the amount will be lowered because the first two months of the season (June and July) have already gone by.

Crops on the planting list include peas, spinach, green beans, broccoli, onions, scallions, leeks, sweet potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, Bok choy, arugula, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cabbages, summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, melons and herbs.

Members can pick up one box loaded with their choice of vegetables each week on Wednesday afternoons. The box will weigh approximately seven pounds, will have a retail value of $15 to $25 and, according to the YMCA website, “will feed to moderate veggie eaters for one week.”

While some veggies are ready to pick, the watermelon clearly still has a way to go 

All of the vegetables are organic; there are no genetically-engineered seeds or chemically derived herbicides or pesticides.

“Our commitment to the people we serve,” says Bergen, “is to provide opportunities to learn about healthy food, to get involved, to get their hands dirty.” Members can sign up for weekly email updates that include recipes, what to expect in their weekly “shares,” upcoming farm events and pertinent crop information.

“We’re still welcoming in new members,” said Bergen. “We’re trying to get the word out and continue to expand. We need volunteers, too, and they don’t need gardening expertise; we’re looking for enthusiastic people who want to work outside and enjoy very flexible hours.”

The YMCA has partnered with Bellingham public schools (a source of volunteers and vocational training opportunities) and with New England and Chapel in Franklin (to build a farm stand).

The Y also operates a community garden project in Mansfield that has been going for seven years. Bellingham is in year one.

Coming this summer on Center Street: a big sign that will identify the community garden, a garden shed for storage, and a farm stand that will allow retail sales of vegetables not already claimed by members.

If you’d like to become a member or volunteer, or just want more information, please email [email protected]





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