Tillsonburg's Community Garden keeps on growing

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A year-and-a-half ago, Ray Sorochan predicted the Tillsonburg Community Garden on Bloomer Street would expand.

"If this goes well, we'll clear off an area back that way," Sorochan said at the official grand opening of the garden in October 2012. "And just continue on."

Going into its third season, it turns out garden plot manager was right. The community garden is growing into the area Sorochan mapped out.

"Last summer we had 17 plots and three little small ones," said Sorochan Saturday morning at the garden where members were reserving plots for the 2014 season. "This year we're adding 15 more plots, back that way.

"The plan was everybody who had a plot last year was going to get one. And if there was more (plots available) they could get a second one. We've got more people, new people here. And some that didn't come back."

In addition to moving the water tank to higher ground between the new and old plots, Sorochan is hoping to get a load of donated topsoil to help level up the garden.

"It's a floodplain, it's very wet in here. If I could bring the level up about 4-5 inches, that would be just perfect.

"We're going to till this all up," said Sorochan. "We got some manure – donated – and Doug sprayed it on one weekend, two weeks ago, did a good job. We'll put a little more fertilizer on to finish it up, then we'll till it. Once it's tilled, we're ready to go. I'm hoping to get this tilled in the next week, week-and-a-half."

The community garden has access to two tillers, and Brian Gilvesy will assist with a tractor.

"The ground is cold for planting, but root vegetables, anything that grows in the ground, you can plant now – beets, carrots, radishes, potatoes," said Sorochan. "Anything that sticks out above the ground, right now, is susceptible to frost. Most people wait until mid-May or the long weekend in May."

"We're anxious to get outside," said Iris Harvey, "and get into the gardens because we've been doing so much planning through the winter. We're looking forward to increasing the size of the garden, almost doubling the size, and we're welcoming new gardeners. Hopefully with the expansion we will able to accommodate everyone who is showing an interest in the community garden.

"It's taken a while for the community to become aware of this site, and I think it's a good sign... I think it's going to be a 'growing' interest in Tillsonburg. In the summer time, I think this is just a beautiful site."

About 20-25 people are expected to be growing on community plots this summer.

"We're hoping to segregate a couple of plots for The Salvation Army and the Helping Hand Food Bank," said Sorochan. "We're going to start doing a little more for the community."

Sorochan said there are some core gardening rules in a community project, and some had to be enforced last summer.

"You're maintaining your plot, not infringing on anybody else. We've got a whole list of rules," he said, adding with a smile, "and as I always say, you better read the rules."

chris.abbott@sunmedia.ca

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