Community garden may soon take root in Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND — The pilot phase of a community garden may soon spring up at the Twin Brook Recreation Area.

The Cumberland Community Garden Initiative, which requires Planning Board and Maine Department of Environmental Protection amendments, is expected to go before the Town Council for endorsement on Monday, March 28. If all goes well, the garden could be in place by late April.

Karyn Marden, a Cumberland Foreside resident who serves on a steering committee for the initiative, on Monday said she hopes the organic garden will be built on the Tuttle Road side of Twin Brook. The 30-by-40-foot trial garden planned for this year will produce donations for local food pantries.

“The first year that (most community gardens) start up, they have to trial the soil,” Marden said, noting that the garden could ultimately expand to 2.5 acres with plots for lease.

“A lot of people wanted to just get in and till the soil up and start leasing out plots,” she explained, “but this has … always been pasture and never been used for crops, so it’s really important that you make sure the soil is conditioned.”

A community garden with leased raised beds could also be created next year behind Prince Memorial Library.

“We want it to be … pedestrian-accessible,” Marden said, noting that if senior housing proposed for the Doane Property is built, residents there would have easy access to the garden.

Marden said her committee is looking for help from volunteers for weeding and maintenance of the garden. The group also seeks advice on what kind of plantings food pantry clients prefer.

“Everybody wants to eat healthier,” Marden noted. “… I think that a lot of people want to learn how to garden, and they also want to start eating organic. And I think that the greatest benefit would be … a lot of people who don’t know how (to garden), learning how. And also, being able to eat local fresh produce, but being able to create it with their own hands.”

People who want to help, make suggestions or learn more can reach Marden at karynmarden@yahoo.com.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.