Gardeners tend to their plots at the Troy Community Gardens during the 2018 season.

Gardeners tend to their plots at the Troy Community Gardens during the 2018 season.

Photo provided by the Troy Parks and Recreation Department


Troy Community Gardens return for 2021 season

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published March 25, 2021

 The gardens are located at Troy Farms, at the intersection of Beach Road and South Boulevard.

The gardens are located at Troy Farms, at the intersection of Beach Road and South Boulevard.

Photo provided by the Troy Parks and Recreation Department

Advertisement

TROY — After being canceled for the 2020 season before gardeners could put seed to soil, the Troy Community Gardens plan to reopen for the 2021 season.

“We are so excited to be back,” Troy Community Center Recreation Supervisor Nikki McEachern said. “Gardening is an activity that promotes overall health, quality of life, physical strength, fitness, flexibility and socialization. It really hits so many of our goals as a recreation department.”

Experienced and new, interested gardeners alike are invited to sign up for a plot at the gardens this year. Returning gardener registration opened March 10 for Troy residents and March 12 for nonresidents. New gardener registration will open at 8 a.m. April 1.

The gardens are a great place for new and experienced home gardeners to learn, McEachern said.

“If they’re a new gardener, they’ll learn everything from planting their very first seed to weeding (and) harvesting their own vegetables. It’s a very rewarding process for most people,” she said. “If they’re an experienced gardener, they’re going to find that the community garden setting is so nice, because we provide till for them, we have water access at every single plot, we provide compost on-site, and full sun.

“Most people gardening at home don’t have full sun in their yards. That’s a big benefit you don’t really think about until you really get going with gardening.”

The Troy Community Gardens have 96 total 18-by-18-inch ground plots, with 46 remaining this season, and nine 4-by-12-inch raised plots, with six remaining for the season. Those who do not receive a plot initially will be placed on a waiting list.  Garden plots cost $85 for residents and $95 for nonresidents.

“Every year this program fills. There’s always a wait list for this program,” McEachern said, adding that the gardens increased in size by about 20% in 2018 to accommodate more gardeners. “It’s definitely in high demand. People want to garden, and I expect with the pandemic, I have heard that there has been an even larger interest in gardening.

“I’ve heard that seed catalog companies have had trouble keeping up with the demand from people. I think there were a lot of people planting COVID victory gardens, so I’m excited to see any new gardeners and hear what brought them into gardening.”

Gardeners who are waitlisted for the 2021 season could potentially still earn a plot at the gardens if a site is left unattended for too long, McEachern explained.

“Oftentimes, life happens. It could be somebody has an illness or a family emergency and they simply can’t keep up with the garden, because it’s very labor intensive to keep up with a large garden plot. We do what we can to reach out to that gardener and provide assistance through volunteers to do whatever we can to make sure they can keep their plot. After that point, then, sometimes we do have to offer that plot up to a new gardener.”

Tom Bartlett, who’s been gardening at the Troy Community Gardens for eight years, said he’s met a lot of nice people through his years at the garden. Bartlett grows zucchini, collard greens, onions, dill, hot and sweet peppers, a variety of tomatoes, and more.

It’s fairly easy to get started as a new gardener, Bartlett said. “You’ve got to be out there quite a bit of time. Weeds do grow quick, but if you need any advice from somebody or you’re not sure how to do something, there’s usually someone there to ask, but it’s never overcrowded. … It’s very easy. All you have to do is bring your manual labor, and the rest is done by Troy.”

Two of the biggest benefits Bartlett has found in his years at the garden are the diversity and the shared community that flourish naturally among gardeners.

“It’s interesting, because people do share their vegetables out there. If you want to try something, your neighbors in the garden are always willing to give you some. In fact, they enjoy seeing you try some of their types of food,” he said, adding that the diverse ethnicities of the gardeners sprout up a variety of vegetables. “We experience new vegetables that we’ve probably never tried, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Above all else, McEachern said, it’s a mutual respect between gardeners that makes each season successful. “It’s a community garden. It only works if people cooperate with each other. One of the really cool things about this program is people do form friendships and help each other out. We have a lot of gardeners who have so much experience, many of them are master gardeners. They are willing to help each other out,” she said. “That level of respect and cooperation is really what makes this program work.”

McEachern suggests new gardeners sign up for a household account online before the deadline so they can register for a plot April 1. For more information, visit rec.troymi.gov/programs/gardens.php.

Advertisement