Eat Your Garden!
by Cate Murway
Vacant land bursts with potential- potential to help everyone grow together, literally.
Adams Hollow Community Garden provides common fertile ground for people of all ages to share their knowledge, passion and delicious homegrown vegetables and fruit.
PLANT parenthood at its very best!
Paul William Stillwagon builds the boxes to fill the area that was once just neglected tennis courts in Bristol Borough, that is, until Adams Hollow Community Garden took root by the Bristol Lagoon at Jefferson Avenue and Prospect Street.
“It gets people together. We encourage people to get involved.”
Last year this project involved 40 people. This year so far, there are 78 future “farmers”.
Paul and his wife, Cheryl both worked for the Pathmark supermarket chain for 40 years until they closed. Cheryl now works for Shop Rite in East Norriton “it’s far… it’s 30 miles, it’s an hour away.” Paul has a “Little Debbie” truck route in Kensington. P.S. Little Debbie products are made in the US.
Paul’s plan is to fill the whole Community Garden area with boxes.
He and Donna McCloskey and Shirley Brady are the committee. “Everything runs by us.”
Paul’s wife originally just wanted to join the garden club and “I thought it was a good idea to grow vegetables. This is a project that you don’t see anywhere. There are application forms at the Grundy Library. It’s just $50.00 for a box. $25.00 is refunded once the beds are cleaned out.”
The Grundy Foundation approved the site and the organization donated a few thousand dollars to the club to help buy 80 yards of soil and some needed supplies. Lou Quattrocchi’s Construction Building Materials “CBM” came on “board” and produced the wood. Home Depot provided a $2000 grant for a community project, and voila, the shed!
The Borough has provided much help under the guidance of Council President, Ralph DiGuiseppe, Borough Manager James Dillon and Public Works Director George Waldron, who were most instrumental in repairing the fence, securing the doors and installing wireless remote camera surveillance and a combination lock for the members so they can come and go to tend their gardening.
“No one wants any recognition. People have just volunteered their time and Council was huge in helping us,” commented Paul. “Just need electric and we’re good to go.”
There is even a small pavilion under which to sit and get out of the sun. Paul is pleased. “This is just a great setup.”
There are more long-term goals, like placing solar panels on top of the small pavilion at the garden site and adding additional handmade picnic benches.
Brian Adams, owner of Mill Street’s “Trainpops Attic” donated a bike rack so Adams Hollow Community Garden even has bike accommodations.
“Besides the fact that the garden provides a great place for people to grow fresh herbs and vegetables, it more importantly provides an opportunity for members of the community to come together and create a bond over a common interest. Bristol needs more people like Paul Stillwagon who will take the initiative in a community project and continue to spearhead its efforts long after its initial inception,” Ralph DiGuiseppe acknowledged.
Paul and his wife have claimed at least two plots for their own yields. Cheryl planted collards, spinach, broccoli, bib lettuce, romaine and onions, and arugula. “It has a great nutty taste, I love it.”
Paul showed me his box. “There’s nothing happening in there, sir.”
My mistake, Paul starts with seeds!
Last year his tender green bean crop was enjoyed by all at his family Thanksgiving dinner.
There is an opportunity for veterans to rent boxes free of charge and consideration for those who are unemployed. A few veterans maintain garden boxes and some are adorned with American flags.
Fruit is on the grow in the community boxes along the front of the garden spaces that include raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and grapes. Members have the opportunity to select and enjoy whatever they would like.
The four flower boxes in the front area are FFO ‘for flowers only’. Daisies, wildflower mixtures and lamb’s ear with thick white-wooly foliage will soon “enhance what we’re doing here”.
Jayne McPherson-Young, the proprietor of “Got Wine?” on Pond Street cultivates a whimsical fairy garden. The tiny space she creates and tends with love that may lure fairies and with them, hopefully, good luck. Paul commented, “The Irish believe that the fairies watch the gardens.”
“I like the fact that we have people who have never gardened and those who are experts. I’ve met so many great friends,” Jayne commented.
She is planting Brussels sprouts, onions and eggplant, and several different varieties of hybrid tomatoes.
Do the fairies help you?
“I’m sure they do at night”, she chuckled.
When the terrific harvests explode out of the boxes or the plants mature too quickly, Jayne provides a garden box to collect the abundant ripe yields. The delectable selections are brought to the Pantry at the First United Methodist Church. Jayne is the Director of the pantry and last year, she purchased a box with the sole intent to grow produce to fill the shelves. Jayne, "Lioness of the Year 2010-2011", entered the Bucks County Opportunity Council essay contest and she won a refrigerator for the food Pantry.
Next goal? They sure could use a truck to help with deliveries.
Michelle and Michael Migliacci are planting tomatoes, peppers and zucchini for their family. A screen topper was being accurately placed to keep critters out and protect their future meals.
Everything isn’t just “hoe, hoe, hoe” here! Besides the abundant veggies and fruit, there are fun events with music planned and family socials for the Adams Hollow Garden members where everyone is invited to bring a dish to share.
This community garden is perfect for building community when it is most necessary.
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