Group hopes to open community garden in West Haven - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Group hopes to open community garden in West Haven

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A grassroots effort is underway in one shoreline community to transform a piece of land behind an old school into a community garden.

Organizers in West Haven said they hope the new garden will help get more fresh fruits and vegetables onto dinner plates.

The site behind Ann V. Molloy Elementary School is currently a green field with geese grazing, but come next spring it could be overgrown with vegetation.

"Seven years ago I started the quest for a garden," Marilyn Wilkes said.

A gardener herself, Wilkes is heading up the West Haven Community Garden. It's a group of volunteers and elected leaders that are trying to take an acre of land behind the school and transform it into 100 plots for growing local, organic produce.

"The size of each plot will be about 5-by-10 because I want to be able to have the most amount of people taking advantage of this garden," Wilkes said.

Santonio Ciarlegilo lives near the school and has been a gardener since growing up in Italy. He said he has space to garden, but many who live in apartments or multi-family homes aren't as lucky.

"I think it's a good idea because a lot of people don't have the land to plant vegetables or anything," he said.

While organizers are working with the city and Board of Education on turning the land into a garden, one thing they're not getting help with is money.

So for the plan to work out, they need to raise $8,000.

"It's for a variety of equipment," Wilkes said. "We need fencing for the garden, we need irrigation. Not sure if the city would take care of the water, so that's another aspect. And of course shovels, rakes, that kind of thing you would need to make a garden grow."

But another big cost would be insurance.

If all goes according to plan though, the garden would open by mid-April. In addition to individual plots, organizers said they envision growing food for local food banks and charities, along with eventually providing an educational aspect.

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