The garden was, from the beginning, a very “local” project. Willimantic agencies and businesses provided donations, while schools and community members provided man power. Students from Windham Tech built the first shed, but it’s taken for granted that the entire community at one time or another has pitched in in some way.
The garden itself is a contiguous fenced-in area separated into two halves. The “Upper Half” (90’ x 175’) is divided into twenty-four 20’x20’ plots for individual gardeners to cultivate. The individuals have full control over where the yield from their plots goes. The lower portion of the garden (70’x100’) is the “Communal Half”, a large vegetable garden maintained by volunteers, the produce from which is donated to the Covenant Soup Kitchen and the ACCESS food bank. There are also three raised beds, built for disabled access as well as student education. In that regard the variety of volunteers found in the WAIM Garden may be seen as its largest success. Individual gardeners, volunteers from the community, from WAIM faith communities, ECSU and UConn volunteers and service learning students, the Town of Windham Summer Camp, GROW Windham’s Youth CORE HS Summer Program, and multiple other local school groups all make use of the Garden throughout the growing season. Participants grow or help to grow mostly vegetables, though some of the individual plots include flowers as well.
WAIM hosts a variety of Fall and Spring Garden Workdays, a Fall Garden Party, frequent school and community workdays, and generally accepts the help and inquiry of any organization or college looking for a place to volunteer and/or learn. With the help of volunteers and community members, the WAIM community garden provides sustainability for the community to enable access to healthy food and for residents to supplement their incomes with healthy fresh food they have grown themselves.
For more information on the garden, access to the gardeners plots, or interest in volunteering, contact Neenah Shafer at: (860) 456-7270 x13.