Group hopes gardening project strengthens neighborhood
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | April 29,2013
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Rutland residents are shown hard at work constructing the community garden on the corner of Baxter Street and Park Avenue on Sunday.
Will growing plants make a community grow closer?
The answer to that question would be a resounding yes, if you posed it to the dozen-or-so volunteers who broke ground Sunday on a community garden project in the troubled northwestern corner of the city.
Rutland City Police describe the neighborhood as a “hot zone” for criminal acts.
Located at the corner of Baxter Street and Park Avenue on a lot the city is leasing for a $1 a year from Mike Solimano and Tracy Taylor, the volunteers took advantage of the stunningly gorgeous day to build a series of raised beds and fill them with soil.
“We believe that by gardening together and growing flowers together, we’re going to bring the people of this neighborhood and the community together,” said Carol Tashie, a board member of Sustainable Rutland, which spearheaded the project in a partnership with the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department and the mayor’s office.
“Even though there are innumerable benefits to having a community garden, this is about community building and neighborhood stabilization,” said Mayor Christopher Louras as he took a break from shoveling topsoil.
The project received donated materials from MAC Equipment & Steel and Pratico’s Landscaping & Fencing, and financial support from Green Mountain Power.
The end result will be four beds, measuring 40 feet long and 4 feet wide, with 5-foot foot paths between each row. From this, 16 plots — measuring 10 feet long and 4 feet wide — will be available for use for free to members of the community, with priority given to neighborhood residents, such as Park Avenue resident Michael Tudor.
“This is about making this corner look a lot better for the public, and it feels good to help,” Tudor said as pushed a wheelbarrow full of topsoil. “Plus, it’s a nice day to get out and work with dirt.”
Tudor said he is interested in using one of the plots, as were other passersby, said volunteer Scott Courcelle, a board member of Sustainable Vermont and operator of Alchemy Gardens, located on Boardman Hill Farm in West Rutland.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from people just stopping by,” said Courcelle, who will act as a consultant to aspiring farmers, thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation.
“Whether you’re an experienced gardener or have never planted a seed in your life, we’re going to make this as easy as possible,” said Tashie, who operates Radical Roots Farm in Rutland.
The project will be managed by the Recreation and Parks Department. To request a plot, contact Cindi Wight, recreation director, at 282-1092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.