The weather cooperated. Trees in the way had been cleared. On Friday morning, trucks and equipment snaked their way from Bible Street through the woods to the site.
The smell of spring was in the air and the promise of the 88 garden community garden plots was palpable.
Minor mountains of leaves accumulated over decades awaited their fate. Like gardeners’ jackpots, the trove of natural decomposed soil awaited a new life.
On a 1-1/2 acre portion of the 39-acre Montgomery Pinetum parcel opposite Bible Street from the Garden Education Center, the Greenwich Community Gardens will create garden plots for residents and local groups. The Town of Greenwich deposited fall’s detritus on the site for many years.
Patti Sechi, president and founder of Greenwich Community Gardens who a knack for making big undertakings look effortless, was looking forward to expanding the sustainable community garden concept from Byram to Cos Cob.
Sechi’s group’s first garden project Armstrong Court Community Organic Garden
“You can see the dark rich soil from where the leaves decomposed. Perfect for gardening,” Sechi said.
Walking down the pathway from Bible Street to the site, which is located across the street from the Garden Education Center, Sechi was joined by Teddy Mammone of the Town Tree Dept.
Mammone stopped at a felled red oak that would need to be removed, but might make good firewood for someone. Continuing down the path that will eventually be paved with millings of crushed up blacktop, and a few parking spots created, Mammone pointed out a derelict conveyor belt that he said had been there as far back as 1976 when he first spotted it.
Arriving in one of his signature red trucks, Bob Natale of Natale Construction maneuvered a backhoe to remove tree stumps. Next he tackled removing the mangled conveyor belt and an abandoned snow plow blade, both to become scrap metal.
A red and tan swath of the cleared site contrasted with the dark rich soil of the decomposed leaves. “The Town used to store clay here for the ball fields,” Mammone explained.
The Town stopped using the site to dispose leaves a few years ago, but the Fire Department has made good use of the site for fire trench rescue drills.
Sechi smiled at the history, but in her mind’s eye was set on garden plots and beehives. Walking the site with Greenwich Free Press, Sechi pointed out the adjacent wetlands and neighboring archery club, stopping for a moment to admire the stone walls that cross cross the adjacent leafless woods of the Pinetum.
Sechi explained that at Armstrong Court which is led by a steering committee, the Cos Cob site currently has a Building Team of seven people. The site is being leased to Sechi’s Greenwich Community Gardens, a 501(c)3, for $1.00 a year.
As the backhoe made busy work of the stumps and debris, Lindy Weaver, resource and education director who leads the building team and Terri Browne Kutzen, chair woman both arrived.
“There is a huge sea change going on. People are starting to believe that we need to do things differently,” Sechi said as Natale’s backhoe scooped debris into a the red dump truck. When complete, Bible Street Community Garden will increase the number of a plots in town to over 200 and allow even more residents to grow their own food.
In addition to the goal of the added bonus of the public-private community garden is that fresh produce makes its way to the Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry.