By: Christopher Swain
06:34 PM Eastern Daylight Time today (June 20th) marks the official first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. This day is also widely known as the longest day of the year although a few of my colleagues on the Permaculture team may disagree with that definition. It is not the day with the earliest sunrise or the latest sunset, simply the day with the greatest amount of available sunlight. I am mentioning this because I’m grateful that we have the majority of our food crops planted and they are taking full advantage of all of the available sunlight. It is amazing to see how an unused parcel of land on an otherwise forgotten side of West Parish Church has been transformed over the course of 8 months into a fully functioning Permaculture garden. It will be even more amazing once we begin harvesting the fruits of our labor and sharing them with the larger community!
My colleagues have previously written about what Permaculture means to them, what significance this garden has on the community and what they hope to take away from the experience. They have spoken of “community”, “education”, “support” and “care for the Earth”. I fully support and agree with each of their assessments.
Personally I wanted to get involved with Permaculture at West Parish for three main reasons. First is that I am a novice Green Thumb, someone that relies on Miracle Grow and Roundup to make my lawn and garden bloom. The opportunity to learn how to garden using native plants and species as your ally was something that I was eager to learn more about. The sooner I can ditch the chemicals from my gardening technique, the better! Secondly I wanted to help expand West Parish Church’s outreach into the larger community and I saw this project as a perfect opportunity to do that. Having a working garden visible from Shawsheen Road is just the start. Once we start harvesting our zucchini’s, tomatoes, butternut squash, etc. and are able to provide needed food to individuals and communities, they will know exactly where it came from and who provided it. I think that is fantastic. I never know where my tomato was grown if I buy it at Market Basket never mind how it made its way to the store.
Lastly I’m looking forward to preparing cooked meals from our harvest that will be shared with the community. I’m thinking of how tasty the Ratatouille dish will be later in August or how delicious a hot bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash soup will taste when the leaves begin turning in the fall. Sharing our harvest is probably what I’m most excited about! I can’t wait for our first Community meal later this year! Keep an eye out for dates and times and thank you for all your continued support!
Written By: Jerry Greer
We’ve been waiting impatiently all winter for warm weather so we can FINALLY get some plants in the ground. The season cooperated and we have prepared the beds and put in many of our starts. We now have tomatoes, summer and zucchini squash, bell peppers and five pear trees growing away. We’ll be planting seeds for some of our row crops and making hills for our cucumbers and larger squash. One portion of the garden, just outside the kindergarten windows, will have a variety of herbs and wild flowers which will attract pollinators and other useful and/or attractive insects.
All of us who have put in time in the garden (and those who have given their financial and psychic support) anticipate several outcomes from this project. First and most obvious is the food we plan to share with organizations feeding the hungry in the Greater Lawrence area. Second we are providing a demonstration to the Andover community of what permaculture gardening looks like and what it can accomplish. Third we are building a community of support within our church and with others who help out in the garden and who will receive the product of our efforts. Fourth is a sense of purpose and accomplishment for the gardeners and our supporters.
This summer we will be watering, weeding, replanting and harvesting. We’re looking forward to those activities. Drop by and take a look.
Permaculture Garden at West Parish Church - Andover, MA
Permaculture West Parish
129 Reservation Rd.
Andover, MA 01810
129 Reservation Rd.
Andover, MA 01810