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Community garden plots open to Fredericksburg residents
Fredericksburg’s parks and recreation department is launching a community garden at the corner of Grove Avenue and Littlepage Street near downtown Fredericksburg. The application period for the 20 plots in the garden opened Jan. 1, and Parks & Athletics Division Manager Michael Ward said about half are already full.
Applications will continue to be taken through the end of February, or until spots fill up. Garden plots are open to city resident only.
The plots will be 10 feet by 20 feet, enough to grow hundreds of pounds of vegetables. All plots are to be organic, and no pesticides or herbicides will be allowed in the community garden.
Once plots are assigned, the gardening season will begin March 1. All plots must be planted by May 1, and the season ends Nov. 30.
The garden plots are at the tip of the property that is being developed as the Cossey Botanical Garden. This is a volunteer project of the regional Master Gardeners Association, and it has transformed the property that was once the site of the Cossey water plant. It has been funded through donations and planted with volunteer labor from the Master Gardeners.
Similarly, the community gardens are expected to be a revenue-neutral enterprise for the city budget. Ward said the parks department intends to use some money it had left in contingency to prep the beds and build a chain-link fence to protect them, but the department expects the $50 plot fees to cover the costs of the program. Garden applicants must also pay a $25 refundable cleanup deposit.
“We are hoping that our new venture ends up improving the quality of life for the residents of the city,” Ward said. If it proves popular, he said the department might look at establishing community gardens in other locations in the city.
The concept of the community garden is one that is growing in popularity nationwide, as people seek a more direct connection with their food, and aim to cut costs at the grocery store.
Two years ago, the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank started working with a region-wide network of community gardens, including locations at the Hazel Hill and Heritage Park apartment complexes in Fredericksburg.
The gardens provide a food source for the residents who work them, and they also help stock the food bank’s shelves with nutritious fresh produce.
Fredericksburg residents interested in applying for a plot in the community garden can download an application here, or pick one up at the Dorothy Hart Community Center at 408 Canal Street. Payment must be made with the application. Download a brochure about the program here.