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Accessible Garden Beds Coming to Community Garden

woman gardening

With accessible garden beds, gardeners can work sitting down.

Credit: Brenda Bazán / San Antonio Report

By Kevin McKeon, Master Gardener Volunteer

Thanks to the generosity of a local bank, the Mousam Way Land Trust this year is building something new at the Sanford Community Garden – accessible beds that allow gardeners to tend plants while seated in wheelchairs.

A Kennebunk Savings Bank grant has enabled the trust to construct a 20 by 50-foot deck that will eventually house six 4 by 12-foot beds at the McKeon Reserve. The hope is to have the beds ready by late summer. Appropriate tools, watering equipment and ramps will be available.

The latest improvements cap a six-year effort to develop a community garden at the reserve, off Blanchard Road in Springvale. In 2018, Land Trust directors endorsed the concept to plan and build a multi-faceted ecology center at the then newly acquired reserve. The David and Linda Pence Community Ecology Center was thus established, honoring the folks who helped make the reserve possible.

Despite some mishaps – in the wet spring of 2019, a truck delivering gravel to the garden slid off the soaked road, for example – the garden did get built. Within three years, it had doubled in size to 52 raised beds; 14 small kids’ beds were also added for some of the gardeners’ kids and grandkids. The current 66 raised beds, surrounded by an 8-foot-tall steel deer fence with 5-foot-wide gates, a tool shed, produce wash station, and picnic area under a shade-giving grape arbor, are now offered to local gardeners who may not have the space to have their own little garden.

Plans for the future include a greenhouse that will support propagation, self-guided nature trails, assisted migration projects, the Master Gardener Volunteer Kids Can Grow program and the community garden. A botanical nursery will temporarily store and acclimate greenhouse plantings in support of the trust’s various nature trails and other projects. An accessible outdoor restroom and garden tool shed have both been built with help from the Lowe’s Heroes Project.

The Environmental Center – currently an old barn – will be the hub for holding community and group meetings. It includes an activity area for making bird and bat nesting boxes, informational trail placards, and other eco-oriented projects.

And for the third year, the community garden is hosting the University of Maine Extension’s Kids Can Grow program – a Master Gardener instructional and gardening-learning summer school – with support from Eldredge Lumber and Coast of Maine soil.

To learn more about the Sanford Community Garden, go here. To help support Mousam Way Land Trust’s community outreach, go here. And to become a Trust member, go here.

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