SCARBOROUGH — A community garden is increasing its yield to feed the hungry and is also hoping to expand.
The Scarborough Community Garden, a 32-by-24-foot garden on the grounds at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church at 350 U.S. Route 1, began in 2015 as a partnership between Project Grace and members of the church. It is now a community-wide garden with residents volunteering in the mission to provide clients with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Chris Taylor, chairman of the garden steering committee, said the idea was “to deal with food insecurity issues in our communities. The food pantry has dry goods, but they didn’t have a lot of fresh produce there.”
Taylor said Project Grace approached the church with the idea.
All food grown in the garden is organic and is donated to the Scarborough Food Pantry at First Congregational Church of Scarborough, 161 Black Point Road.
In 2015, the garden produced 147 pounds of food; in 2016 it produced 482 pounds of food and is on track to produce even more this year. The year will culminate Oct. 14 with the annual Harvest Fest, which raises funds for the gardens.
Taylor attributes some of the increase in the harvest to better organic compost and planning.
Volunteers harvest on Tuesday mornings and on either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
The garden’s first harvest of the year took place May 21 and yielded two pounds of chives.
On Tuesday morning, four volunteers harvested romaine and bibb lettuce, kale, spinach, beets, swiss chard, radishes, chives and parsley. The harvest yielded more than 19 pounds of food, including 7.5 pounds of lettuce, 4.2 pounds of beets, 1.75 pounds of spinach and 1.5 pounds of chives.
Volunteer and steering committee member Pamela Hillman said people aren’t familiar with some of the vegetables, such as kale and Swiss chard, and may not know how to cook them. So the garden also provides recipes to the food bank for things like kale salad and Swiss chard with onions.
Jane Ducott, who also sits on the steering committee, said the garden is made possible through “a wonderful effort by many.”
“It’s peaceful. When you come into this garden, all your worries walk away,” Ducott said.
Taylor said the group is looking for more volunteers to weed and harvest, and to help expand the garden, and interested people should contact him at email@example.com.
The volunteer gardeners would also like to build a tool shed on the property and are accepting donations to help with that project.
Hillman said she enjoys being involved in the garden because it allows her to give back to the community.
“I think we get more out of doing it than the people who get it (the food),” Hillman said. “It’s a gift to yourself to come to the garden.”
Pamela Hillman weeds at the Scarborough Community Garden at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church on Tuesday morning, June 27.
Jane Ducott pulls weeds at the Scarborough Community Garden at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church on Tuesday morning.
Bibb lettuce crowns in the Scarborough Community Garden at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church on Tuesday morning.