Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grow It Eat It On the Road

I blog about our Derwood demonstration garden, and a bit about my home garden, but one of my goals for the summer was to look at some of the other places that people grow food in Montgomery County. I've visited a few, and will try to get to others before the end of the summer (including our other Master Gardener demonstration garden at the county fairgrounds).

In June I visited the Sligo Mill Overlook community garden in Takoma Park, one of the community gardens run by Montgomery Parks. Master Gardeners help by making scheduled visits and offering advice to plot owners. It was fun looking over all the different plots and seeing what crops gardeners chose to grow and what methods they used. This is a relatively new garden, and everyone is working hard to build up the soil and keep down weeds. It all looks great.

MG intern Rani Parker has a plot there, and here is her bitter gourd plant:

Bitter gourds definitely go on my list for the demo garden next year!

Water is always a problem at "away-from-home" gardens. Here's how the Sligo Mill garden gets water. They have permission to fill the cistern from the hydrant across the street.

My next visit was to another sort of community garden, for the residents of Friends House Retirement Community in Sandy Spring. Master Gardeners help with this garden as well. Residents can have their own plots, and also help to tend larger plots that supply the common dining room. There is also a cutting garden to provide the common areas with flowers, and even a beehive. Here's a view of the idyllic setting, with squash beds:

One of the secrets of successful community gardening is rules:

There can't be many more pleasant places to garden than this one, and it seems to prove the adage that gardening keeps you young!

Third and last for this post, I visited the Button Farm in Germantown (inside Seneca Creek State Park). It is a living history center run by the Menare Foundation, developed to educate the public about slave life, the Underground Railroad, and other parts of our history. It is also a working farm offering CSA memberships (I was there to pick up my neighbors' squash, beans and onions while they were away). In addition to the farm fields, they have a historic garden full of heirloom crops. In coming years, they will be focusing on one heritage at a time, common to many local residents, such as Senegalese, German, or Scots/Irish.

Here are some nice-looking onions almost ready to pull:

And a rustic fence, which probably keeps deer out pretty well, if not smaller animals:

I learn something every time I visit another garden. Check out what's going on with food growing in your corner of the state - it's a great way to discover more about your community!

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