LINCOLN — With temperatures in the 20s, it’s hard to imagine spring is just around the corner, but Lincoln Community Garden is gearing up for another season.
There are a handful of spots open in the garden as this growing season approaches, thanks to a series of recent changes.
Some Lincoln residents, even those who pass the garden every day, might not know exactly where it is. There is no longer any sign indicating that the land is open to the public.
Long-time gardener Tom Rossi, who helps keep things running smoothly, said he would like to change that soon by adding signage.
The Lincoln Community Garden is located in the former Thibaudeau Farm, off River Road near Maplehurst Street. Nearly 15 acres of city-owned land has been set aside for passive recreation and conservation through an Open Space grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
The garden plots are not really visible from the road, blocked from view by a barn at the top of the hill. For this reason, Rossi said people tend to miss the beauty of the garden, which offers one of the most picturesque views in the city, looking out over the Blackstone River to Cumberland.
Just through the trees, the Blackstone Valley Bike Path is at the bottom of the grounds.
Rossi said the garden has grown from around 20 plots to around 40. Interest in the garden has definitely increased, he said.
“We now have benches up there and have cleared a patio for visitors to sit on. They will bring their kids and pack a picnic…it was a really fun time,” he said. “Members of the Lincoln Garden Club now have plots in the community garden. We are very diverse. People from all walks of life are involved and introduce themselves to different cultures and ways. »
Much of the food grown in the garden is donated to local pantries. Rossi said they also help provide food for a dozen Lincoln families.
The garden is technically not organic, as the land would need to be idle for a few years to do so, but they don’t allow chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides.
“The beauty of the community garden is that if you go on vacation or are sick, the gardeners will weed for you; everyone is watering for you,” he said. Recent improvements made by the city included the installation of 10 water stations, so gardeners no longer have to lug around the shared hose.
There is a shared plot for corn and a new herb garden. The city provides water, woodchips, compost and other materials to get started.
There is a locked fence around the garden this year, because Rossi said the garden was “looted” last year. “All my beautiful winter kale…I don’t mind them taking any, but they pulled it out by the roots,” he said.
After an uncharacteristically dramatic period, control of the garden was transferred from the Lincoln Conservation Commission to the city’s Director of Public Works a few years ago. Rossi did not comment on the 2018 garden drama, but said it has only been peace since.
He said the garden had been a place of harmony and healing over the past few years, even during the most difficult months of the pandemic, noting that it was one of the few community gardens in the south. of New England to remain open throughout.
“It’s a fun environment,” he said, where people leave their differences at the door. “Everyone who goes there falls in love with it.”
As of this week, Rossi said there were around five or six plots available. Everyone who had a plot this year will have the opportunity to come back.
Some gardeners are already eager to return and started working the land during the mild weather last Wednesday. Unfortunately, the area was hit by snow and ice a few days later. It’s “frozen tundra” out there now, says Rossi, but now is the time to start thinking about spring planting.
He expected people to start returning to the garden in a few weeks.
A lottery will take place for the plots open in May. Last year, eight families applied for eight open plots.