HANSON — There is room for you to grow at Hanson’s Community Garden.
While it has been operated exclusively for Hanson residents up to now, nonresidents can apply for the first time this year, according to Green Hanson members Evelyn Golden and Kathy Gernhardt. Non-residents will be asked to pay a higher fee than residents.
“It’s only fair, but it’s still only $15 a growing season,” Golden said. “They’re going to spend more than that on their water bill if they were to grow their vegetable garden at home.”
The non-resident fee is waived if the application comes in through the Hanson Food Pantry on behalf of a client. A small variety of seeds can also be provided for those growers.
“We’ll provide the dirt and the water and the community — and the seeds — they just have to do the labor,” Golden said.
Applications for the 24-30 potential open garden sites are available in the Selectmen’s office in Town Hall. For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Golden and Gernhardt said improvements being made, including a fence to deter deer, to bring more people back to the project. Soil amendments — aged manure and other quality composts — are also planned to encourage better plant growth.
Part of the fence project will include additional compost bins to improve garden sustainability in the future.
“We’ve lost gardeners because the crops were being eaten,” Golden said of the deer problem.
At least two of those who left because of deer damage have pledged to come back after learning about the planned fence. Including Scout and church groups which grew produce for the food pantry, nearly two dozen participants were involved in the Community Garden program last year.
The fence, an Eagle Scout project, will place a five-foot high chain link barrier around the garden. The Scout is still working on approval from the Eagle board, but is hoping to do it by May.
“The thought and the research is that we know you need eight [feet] or more for a deer to not scale it,” Golden said as the two spoke at the Community Garden site adjascent to the Hanson Food Pantry on High Street. “But, where it’s going to be chain-link [the deer] are still going to see all the white poles and it’s going to mess with their optical vision — we hope. That’s what researchers are saying.”
Gernhardt added that the higher and more closed off the fence is, it won’t be as welcoming.
“We want to make sure we’re presenting a welcoming facility,” she said.
Golden said the important thing is that, when deer don’t see a clear space in which to land, they are not going to jump a fence.
“That’s a really important project that we’re expecting to take place this year,” Gernhardt said.
A lot can be produced in the three-foot square patches based on the square-foot garden growing practice.
“It’s a little bit different from conventional gardening,” Golden said.
Take green beans, for example. Seed packets advise spacing plants two inches apart in a long row, which means 18 plants in a three-foot row. By planting crops by the square foot, you can grow 36 plants.
“It’s a more intensive way of growing,” Gernhardt said. “What we find in square-foot gardening is people tend to be more diverse [in plant selection] per box.”
It also helps deter weeds, and is very big on vertical growing, Golden said, adding that it also makes soil replenishment and crop rotation more important.
Cucumbers grown vertically can make a better crop yield as well as serving as a space-saver, she said.
Green Hanson is sponsoring a cleanup day at the gardens from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on Saturday, April 20. A new 4-H group, the United Farmers, will also be focusing some of its project work at the gardens, Golden said.
The W-H golf team also selected the garden for its community service project this year, working at the site and donating funds to the project, as well.
“To us it was a huge donation, because anything helps,” Golden said.
Green Hanson is the garden’s umbrella organization through Sustainable South Shore. Working through Green Hanson, the garden received a $500 grant last year, Gernhardt said. After the Community Garden project demonstrates its own growth as an operation and community program, organizers can reapply for the grant.