Plot thickens at Sycamore Community Gardens with new educational growing space

By GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff

Published: 06-01-2023 5:58 PM

The Sycamore Community Garden in Concord is growing in more ways than one.

Besides the plants taking root in the warming soil, garden manager Kaylin Lustig created a new plot for education and programming on the north side of the garden area near NHTI’s campus with plants donated from local businesses.

The area will primarily be for planting native, medicinal, and culturally relevant crops that will thrive in the Northeast environment.

“We’re going to have three workshops centered around this new space,” Lustig explained. “The first one is going to be about planting Abenaki seeds and we’re having a woman of Abenaki descent to lead the workshop, to teach about the heritage of the seeds as well as a ceremony afterward. And then we’ll have one of our own gardeners of Bhutanese background, teaching a workshop on how to build one of those stick structures that you see in the garden.”

The community gardens and its core group of volunteers try to ease food insecurity by providing city residents, including New Americans and those living in apartments, the space to grow food organically in an area that is also accessible by public transportation.

Other goals include offering educational opportunities as well as promoting cultural understanding, diversity and empathy through gardening.

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“This shared educational garden will provide a space to celebrate diversity and tear down the walls of supposed differences,” the group said on its website. “In order to fully accomplish our mission statement, we need a shared garden space that will allow for interactions amongst groups that otherwise would not have the opportunity or necessity to interact with each other.”

Donations have come from all kinds of businesses, said Lustig.

Jackie Stanwood of Ocean State Job Lot saw Lustig in the store looking for empty boxes that she should use to lay down as a substitute for weed-mat.

“I was just stocking pillows, cushions, like couch cushions, outside cushions and those have big boxes. They worked perfectly for what she needed,” said Stanwood, who stopped by the garden this week. “I ended up saving some and she came back like a week, or so later. We just saved a ton of boxes.”

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