Community garden brings people together in Presque Isle
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Friends and neighbors both young and old gathered near the Presque Isle Housing Authority’s Community Center on June 9 to kick off the 5th summer of the Presque Isle Community Garden.
The garden, which is located near Birch Street, started when Christa Galipeau, now the community garden coordinator, was helping her daughters come up with a project for their 4-H club. Jennifer Trombley, director of Presque Isle Housing Authority, approached Galipeau with interest in collaborating on a community garden that could serve nearby residents.
Today the garden has grown to 28 vegetable beds and a perennial flower garden, with plans to include an 800 square foot wildflower meadow. In the first year, only three residents grew vegetables and herbs but now 10 individuals regularly plant and tend to their homegrown food every summer.
Marcy Dedam, who lives near the garden, spent much of the morning and early afternoon on Saturday tending to the peppers, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes and onions that she recently planted and helped clear weeds from other gardeners’ vegetable beds. This summer marks the second year that Dedam has taken advantage of the garden to grow fresh vegetables.
“I like the comradery that exists among the gardeners. I’ve met residents from the neighborhood that I never knew before,” Dedam said.
Ray Lyons, also a nearby resident, planted herbs in his garden beds and has been involved with the garden for the past three years. He enjoys helping volunteers and last Saturday he was busy repairing the back fence and gate of the garden.
“It gives me a chance to get outdoors and be more active,” Lyons said. “The more people we have involved, the better the garden will be.”
The Presque Isle Community Garden is sponsored by the Presque Isle Housing Authority, the Maine 4-H Foundation, the Maine Master Gardener Development Board and the Natural Resource Council of Maine and has played a role in getting younger individuals involved in community service.
For the past several years students in Wintergreen Art Center’s After-School Arts Program have contributed pickets to the fence around the front side of the garden. Students in the May 2018 session returned to the garden to install pickets that they painted during class and helped paint even more pickets.
“It’s really fun because I get to share the pictures that I painted on the fence picket,” Kayla Libby, 10, said.
Steven Marcil, 6, was not in this year’s after-school program at Wintergreen, but still had fun painting his own fence pickets with help from his grandmother, Becky Martinez.
“I like painting and I like seeing the pictures on the fence,” he said.
Galipeau hopes that the community garden can continue providing residents with fresh vegetables and foster a sense of community among gardeners and volunteers for years to come.
“This garden has been a great way to get people together and promote a healthy lifestyle through growing fresh food and spending time outside,” Galipeau said. “When people are involved in a project like this it allows them to give back to their community.”
(Photos by Melissa Lizotte)