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Mercredi, 12 mars 2014

Community garden takes root in Sawyerville

By Rachel Garber

 Imprimer   Envoyer 

On paper, it's a thing of beauty, the new Sawyerville Community Garden. Now a major step has been taken to implant that beauty in Sawyerville. The provisional committee hosted a founding meeting on February 19.

Some 28 people attended, young and old. They heard about different kinds of community gardens from Jessica Hyman. She grew up in Sawyerville and is executive director of the Vermont Community Garden Network. She described some of the key elements for starting up a garden. Good soil. Pest control. A critical mass of people. Funding. Support of the municipality. Clarity about expectations.

And they elected an official administrative council: Chantal Bolduc, Geneviève Braun, Robert Dodier, Gilles Prevost, and Jennifer Coleman McMullin. They got right to work. At their first meeting on February 24, the council elected their officers. Chantal Bolduc is president. Robert Dodier is vice-president. Jennifer Coleman McMullin is secretary. Geneviève Braun is treasurer. And Gilles Prévost is a director.

Participants at the founding meeting also reviewed what the provisional committee has already done. The committee got permission to use a piece of land just north of the Sawyerville ball park on Randboro Road. It measures a bit more than 200 feet x 40 feet. It was donated to the town by Dr. Curtis Lowry.

Over the past year, the committee also obtained status as a non-profit organization. It drew up a charter. It figured out how the garden might work. It has asked for support from the Cookshire-Eaton municipality, the CLD and the provincial deputy. The infrastructure costs - water supply, construction, and so on - could cost about $19,000, but after donations of goods and volunteer labour, the cost could be reduced to about $13,000. That's what Chantal Bolduc said. She's the moving spirit behind the project, but her vision is shared by many others.

In the audience were Cookshire-Eaton Councillor Yvon Roy and federal Member of Parliament Jean Rousseau. "The reason I'm here is simple," said Rousseau. "A community project like this in Sawyerville is really important to re-create connections between people, to re-create a sense of belonging. I couldn't miss it."

André Pettigrew created a large green map of the proposed garden. There are individual lots for members to raise well-behaved plants such as carrots and cabbage. There is to be a collective area for sprawling plants such as squash and pumpkins. Blueberry bushes and rows of raspberries. Herbs and fruit trees. A shed and a sheltered work area, to be built with old-fashioned timberframe construction by Marc Nault, president of the Eaton Corner Museum. And there will be a high fence around the whole, to discourage deer and other veggie predators.

Organizers said they hope the project will bring together community members. Sawyerville has seen closures - stores, banks, a gas station. This initiative is something new for Sawyerville, a change in direction. It's community building.

Everybody is welcome to participate, said Chantal Bolduc. Anyone who would like to become an active member or supporter of the Sawyerville Community Garden should register by email at or call 819-889-3196. The cost of membership is just $5.

"Community gardens like this one that are being started with a very thorough planning process, and a lot of community engagement, and meetings like this that bring people together to work on the project together, make really strong gardens that end up being more sustainable and surviving for years to come," said Jessica Hyman.

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