Community Garden & Farmers Market Opening on Center St.May 24, 2021 01:32PM ● By Pamela Johnson
Manager Tony DeCoste at the Bellingham Community Garden on Center St.
There are many kinds of plots. Perhaps the main story line in a book comes to mind, or a secret plan for doing evil, or a graphic representation like a chart, or a small area of ground for planting. It’s this last one that we want to focus on. The Bellingham Community Garden at 200 Center Street has 40 of them. For a donation of $75, you can have one for the growing season: a 10-by-20-foot plot that is ready for you to plant.
The main story line for the Community Garden over the past two years has been something of a thriller. Started in early 2019, it was a joint effort of the Hockomock YMCA and the town of Bellingham. By the end of the year, the YMCA had pulled out. And then came the pandemic in 2020, so no gardening at all last year.
Enter Tony DeCoste. He lives in a Bellingham condominium with his wife, Jeanne. He loves growing vegetables, but there was no place for a garden at the condo. He reserved a plot at the Community Garden in 2019, “so I could have a garden,” he said. DeCoste continued, “But the YMCA was withdrawing, and I began thinking that this was my opportunity to help.”
He is now the volunteer manager of the entire garden and can help you acquire a plot of your own. “People who have signed up are very excited; they are prepping their plots and getting ready to plant.”
At Bulletin deadline, there were about 20 plots still available. Gardening hours are from dawn to dusk, subject to change. The growing season continues to November 1.
The operating policies are pretty straightforward. There are tools in the shed for everyone to use. You can also bring your own, but if you store them in the shed, anyone may use them. All tools need to be returned to the shed after use. Garden hoses are available to all. Watering is done by hand, and hoses are to be coiled back up after use. DeCoste is not sure how a future town water ban might change things. Community garden members are expected to care for their plot throughout the growing season. This includes weeding, harvesting, and pest/disease control. Tending plots must occur at least once per week. If a plot has not been tended, or appears abandoned, for a period of two weeks, it will be reassigned. (There is additional guidance in three pages of information and policies that you will receive once you decide to sign up.)
There’s also a section entitled “Garden Etiquette.” “Be respectful of your neighbor’s gardening experience,” reads one line. “No shouting or playing loud music.” Children are welcome; pets are not. “If you have a concern or issue with a gardening neighbor, please address it with him/her in a neighborly manner.”
Two local companies have already stepped up to help. Scally’s Tree Service has donated mulch, and Harris & Company Landscape Design and Construction has donated compost.
New this year is a farmers’ market being held at the Center Street garden. Farmers’ markets help local families, protect the environment, provide nutritious food at a low cost that residents can rely upon and, best of all, you know where your food comes from. A portion of the community garden produce supports the local food bank. The Bellingham Community Farmers Market (BCFM) runs from June through October 30, on Fridays, 2-6 PM, and Saturdays, 10 AM - 2 PM. Market Manager Michelle DeFosses said, “We hope you’ll visit us and enjoy these events.” (COVID safety guidelines apply.)
DeCoste created a Facebook group (at www.facebook.com/Bellingham-MA-Community-Garden-101040438778689) that you might like to visit, and an Instagram account (#bellinghamcommunitygarden) has also been created. These pages will contain updates of the events, a harvest calendar, plot information and other market information. For more information, you can also email [email protected].