Gardening season is in full swing throughout the Upper Valley. Tomatoes are progressing from green to red, squash are blooming, and flowers are flourishing. All this thanks to the hard work of many gardeners.
What if you don’t have the space to garden? Perhaps you live in an apartment, or your backyard is too small or too shady for growing vegetables. The Hanover's Community Garden
might be the solution.
About 30 families work one of the garden plots each year. Located between the Dartmouth Rugby Fields and the Dartmouth College Child Care Center
on land owned by Dartmouth College
, the gardens cover more than half an acre, including two flat sections separated by a sloped vacant section, along with a parking area. The space is divided into twenty full plots, each 20-by-20 feet, with walkways between them. Some of the full plots are further divided into half-plots.
According to information sent by Garden Committee Co-Chair Francis Kennedy, the people who utilize the gardens are quite diverse, ranging from long-time residents of Hanover to recent arrivals. Ages range from gardeners who are 80 years old and older and have been members of the garden for more than three decades too young families and graduate students in their 20s who are gardening for the first time. Some of the families have children who actively participate.
The Hanover Community Gardens began as Victory Gardens established on Dewey Field in Hanover during World War II. People were encouraged to grow vegetable gardens during the war since fresh produce was in limited supply because the bulk was being sent to the troops overseas.
Dartmouth Biology Professor Jim Poole started the gardens project and then oversaw the transition of the gardens into a cooperative community garden after the war. Since that time, the gardens have continued as a place where residents of Hanover and nearby towns can plant organic gardens containing vegetables and flowers in a sunny, protected location. For 45 years, the gardens were located in the former Garipay Field off Reservoir Road in Hanover. In the early 1990s, they were moved a short distance to their current location.
All the gardeners agree to follow the rules and guidelines for the garden, which include using only organic fertilizer and cleaning up their garden plot each fall. It is common to find gardeners sharing tips and produce with each other. They also participate in several joint activities each year, including garden clean-up in the spring and fall.
Each gardener has control of his or her own plot. General oversight and management are provided by a volunteer garden committee that is selected by the gardeners at their annual garden clean-up each fall. Each gardener pays an annual fee for a garden plot. Currently, the fees are $40 for a full plot and $20 for a half-plot, and spaces often sell out by mid-May. With money from the fees, Hanover Community Gardens provides each section of the garden with water (including hoses), organic compost, natural wood chips for walkways, and protection from intrusive animal pests.
Speaking of pests, the HCG will erect a sturdy, permanent fence around the plots this summer. Since 2000, the local deer population has grown to the point that deer were munching on the vegetables in the gardens. Temporary fences were erected, but they weren’t effective in protecting the gardeners’ hard work, so a more permanent solution was needed.
For details about the Hanover Community Garden, check out their website at hanovergardens.org.