Come get your hands dirty. That’s what Diane Cook would like you to do on Saturday, April 27 from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm at the Sippican School Community Garden.
The garden is located in the rear of the school, along the music wing, off of Park Street. Cook is looking for volunteers to help rebuild the garden beds damaged by a snowplow, help pull weeds, reseed a small lawn area, clean out and organize the tool shed, apply garden cloth, build two compost frames and remove two trees that are blocking needed sunlight.
Cook, a retired Sippican School teacher, has been working in the garden since its creation. Lisa Durr, Stacey Soucy-Perry and Cook came up with the idea to tie gardening into the school curriculum in 2005. Over time, many children, parents and community members have put time in to keep it flourishing. Local landscapers donate wood chips and a local hardware store donates lumber for the beds.
“Each year, we improve it … one year we built a tool shed and another year we put a fence around it,” said Cook. Other improvements include building garden beds, creating a compost area and putting a gutter system on the shed with a rain-barrel beneath to provide for watering. Salad waste from the cafeteria goes into the compost bin.
“The children at the school learn so much about bee pollination, how flowers and vegetables grow and where their food really comes from,” said Cook.
The garden is well-organized with an herb area, flowers, strawberry patch, pumpkin patch, blueberry bush and a butterfly garden. Vegetables grown include beets, carrots, tomatoes, Swiss chard, onions, potatoes, two kinds of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, horseradish, green beans and peas. There is a small area for sunflowers. Herbs grown include basil, rosemary, marjoram, sage, thyme, mint and chives.
The garden is organic, with no chemicals or pesticides used. Compost donated from a Rochester organic farm helps keep the soil rich, and heirloom seeds are used when available.
In the summer, an eight-week course is offered in gardening and children spend a couple of hours a day in the garden harvesting, observing and learning. Field trips to local farms provide insight on how gardening and agriculture tie together.
“We welcome anyone to come and pull weeds, pick beans and help out in any way,” said Cook. For more information, contact Diane Cook, Garden Coordinator at 508-748-2779.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry