Learning, Sharing, Gardening!

“Does anyone want to share their favorite part about gardening on the roof over the past 3 months?” asked the Director of Adult Recreation for MARC: Community Resources on Tuesday evening. She was addressing the group of six regular MARC participants who have been gardening alongside members of the Middletown Garden Club at the Community Health Center rooftop plots since the springtime. Someone spoke up and mentioned she really enjoyed the feeling of ownership while maintaining 5 garden plots from start to finish. These two groups had come together this past Tuesday in the CHC kitchen to celebrate their hard work by cooking and sharing a meal together using ingredients freshly picked from the garden. It was an honor to be able to sit and watch these two groups work, cook, eat and laugh as if they had been gardening together for years.

This past spring marked the first of hopefully many planting seasons with MARC: Community Resources and The Middletown Garden Club up on the roof. MARC is a multi-faceted organization serving hundreds of adults and children with disabilities in many different ways. In the end of fall last year, CHC designated a plot on the roof that MARC planned on using as a weekly program option starting in the early spring. We were also very lucky to have The Middletown Garden Club express interest in working with both MARC and Macdonough Elementary school tackling various gardening tasks on the roof. The Middletown Garden Club is a large organization with members across Middlesex County that was founded in 1912; a few members really dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to make this a fulfilling collaborative experience and one major goal was to have a dinner towards the end of summer to celebrate the hard work and also continue to learn about the benefits of gardening.

For three months, MARC and the Middletown Garden Club planted, maintained and produced beautiful garden plots filled with different types of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Macdonough Elementary School garden club also contributed before summer vacation started. Although this was the second year of having community garden plots, it is safe to say this year was a huge stride towards achieving a true community garden up on the roof. Before dinner, we sang a blessing together and were able to appreciate the homegrown tomato sauce seasoned with herbs from the garden, a salad filled with veggies that people sitting around the table were responsible for growing and great company. Some people are garden experts and shared their knowledge but I am almost certain that everyone has learned something new throughout this experience. At any moment, the tall sunflowers should be in full bloom and the groups will continue to garden on the roof until the first frost. We are already discussing ways to make next year even more successful. A special thanks to both organizations and especially the members of the Middletown Garden Club who organized a majority of the planning and planting, we appreciate all you have done.

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