YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth Community Garden has received a grant that will benefit not only the garden volunteers, but the surrounding community.
The garden, on East Main Street, has received a grant of $3,100 from the Maine Local Foods Grant Program to install a drip irrigation system that should help the garden grow more produce to distribute to community members in need of fresh food.
“We’re getting fresh organically grown produce out to people who normally can’t get any,” Joy Ahern, the garden steering committee president, said. The committee oversees the volunteers and operation of the garden.
The volunteers at the garden now use hoses to water the garden, which Ahern said can be problematic. The hoses are heavy and hard to lift for older volunteers, and are also too short and can’t reach all parts of the garden.
The drip irrigation system will be installed in the community plot, one of the garden’s three sections. According to Ahern, this plot is between a third of an acre and a half an acre in size. She said she hopes they can also install the system in the children’s garden.
“What we certainly hope is that we’ll get more produce because they’ll be watered more consistently,” Ahern said.
The system is made of flexible tubing that will be set in the soil. It will run on timers and batteries, and use town water as a central water source.
Ahern said the quantity and quality of vegetables grown is expected to improve.
“The hope is that we’ll have healthier plants and more of them,” she said.
Ahern said the irrigation system will be installed this fall so it won’t impede on next year’s growing season, and will benefit the garden starting in the spring.
Ahern said the new watering system can also serve as a way to teach people different ways of caring for gardens. “I think directors of the programs will be able to educate (the volunteers and children),” she said.
But the real benefit of the watering system will go to the recipients of the produce.
Since 2003, the garden has distributed more than 25,000 pounds of produce, including more than 4,000 pounds last year. The garden donates food to Meals on Wheels, the Yarmouth Food Pantry, Bartlett Circle and Yarmouth Falls Apartments.
“The ultimate result is that we will be able to provide local food pantries and senior residents even more healthy organic produce throughout the growing season,” Ahern said.
With a new water irrigation system, volunteers at the Yarmouth Community Garden won’t have to struggle with hoses now used to water plots.