Row by row, a neighborhood grows
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | April 27,2013
The city hopes neighbors who plant together will grow together.
Mayor Christopher Louras and volunteers from Sustainable Rutland will put together the infrastructure for a community garden in the northwest neighborhood on Sunday.
The effort, starting at 10 a.m. with help from the Recreation and Parks Department, is the latest tactic aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood.
The idea, Louras said, is to get residents out of their homes and interacting with each other.
“We first started having discussions of this late last year, after the consultant for the RRA (Rutland Redevelopment Authority) told us how to stabilize established neighborhoods,” he said. “This is right up that alley.”
Louras said the city got a dollar-a-year lease on the property from owners Mike Solimano and Tracy Taylor.
“It’s a small corner lot, the corner of Baxter and Park Avenue,” Louras said. “The garden proper is going to be about 40 by 40 (feet). It’s going to be raised beds — three or four, depending on the size and configuration. Raised beds are easier to plant, have a better opportunity for success.”
However it winds up configured, Louras said the plan is to have 16 plots measuring 4 by 10 feet. Louras said sections that size can yield “quite a bit.”
“I have a plot at the community garden at Woodstock Avenue that’s 20 by 20 and it’s close to a full-time job,” he said. “Four by 10 is a good size for a beginning gardener who wants to have a variety, some carrots, some lettuce. ... If somebody feels like they can do more, they can do more.”
The garden will be administered by the city Recreation Department and Sustainable Rutland. How it will be run is still being sorted out, the mayor said, but residents of the northwest neighborhood will get priority in plot assignments.
Vendors donated some materials and provided others at a discount, Louras said, with some funding coming from Green Mountain Power’s Rutland Blooms initiative. Sustainable Rutland also secured a $950 grant that will pay for coaching, education and community outreach.
“We want to make sure it’s a success,” Louras said. “There’ll be professional farmers — not just gardeners, professional farmers — involved in the education process.”
If the effort does prove successful, Louras said the city will talk to owners of other vacant lots in the neighborhood about placing more gardens in the area.
Louras said information on signing up for a plot should be available before the traditional start of planting at the end of May.