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Community garden grows food, flowers, friendships

The Middlebury Area Community Garden is hidden away in a sunny corner at the northern end of the grounds at Porter Medical Center (near the employee parking and not far from the new dog park).
Here you will find 16 individual garden plots filled with ripening vegetables and bountiful flowers. Each plot measures 20-feet long by 4-feet wide, and is separated from its neighbor by a neat 2-foot wide straw covered path.
Since I was eager to learn more about communal gardening in Vermont, I asked Megan Battey, the current leader of this Community Garden, and fellow plot holders, Susan Smiley and Alice Leo, to tell me how it all worked.
The Middlebury Area Community Garden
For a small annual fee ($30), anyone can rent a plot in the Community Garden. Indeed, some avid gardeners rent two plots. It falls to Battey, an impeccably organized person, to maintain a record of the names of the plot holders, as well as the availability of plots in the coming year. Currently she anticipates that there will be a few plots available for new gardeners next spring. So, if you are interested, this would be the perfect the time to contact her ([email protected]).
It came as no surprise for me to learn that several plot holders are apartment dwellers who jumped at the opportunity to grow more food than they could possibly raise in containers on their balconies. Battey also recounted how, each spring, one dedicated gardener grows all the seedlings for her summer garden right on the sunny windowsills of her apartment.
Other people find the available space around their own houses is too shady to grow vegetables successfully. So for them, the Community Garden complements their home garden environment.
It is also apparent that many Community Gardeners truly relish the opportunity to get together with fellow gardeners. Leo, a nurse at the Medical Center, told us how she absolutely loves the social aspect of communal gardening. In addition she admits to keeping a close eye on her plot, just in case her friends once again decide to hide her special garden gnome among the zinnias.
Also, to foster connections among everybody, from time

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