AP NEWS

Volunteers Make Garden Grow

May 20, 2019

AYER — Local residents are still waiting for May flowers, so they’re trying to get a head start on making sure those flowers bloom.

The Ayer Community Garden is inching closer to becoming a reality with support from local citizens and the town itself. The project involves an approximate 150-foot parcel of land on 60 Barnum Road where residents can reserve portions of the land to grow plants that they want. Not only does the project promote community interaction, but also growing healthy vegetables for consumption and possibly teaching children the valuable skill of gardening.

“The slogan we’ve adopted is, ‘Building community through gardening,’” Sheila Carman, one of the people who started the project three years ago, said last month. “We’re going to get a group of people who don’t know each other initially and have them participate. There will be workshops where many people will be novice gardeners. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you grow something and you see watching it grow.”

Carman added that the garden was approved for a Community Preservation Grant earlier this spring. Town Meeting earlier this week also approved funding. She added that the town has appropriated about $14,000 to build a shed on the property to keep gardening supplies on-site and build the raised beds to be used for residents to garden. 14 raised beds are set to be built at the garden, 11 regular beds and three more elevated for residents in wheelchairs to use.

Those looking to access the garden must be residents of Ayer and could pay fees between $20 to $50 to rent out beds for the gardening season between May and October, though users cannot grow mint or morning glory flowers due to them being invasive species along with marijuana plants. Applications to reserve beds can be found at the Ayer Public Library, Town Hall and on the town website. Carman said that people can rent beds for a season at a time and hopes to have 30 raised beds at the garden within two to three years.

“Everywhere that I go in the community, people are really behind this and excited about it,” Sara Callahan, another one of the founders of the project, said last month. “Getting to know Ayer and working here and getting to know people in Ayer, I wasn’t surprised. It’s a great community.”

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