Chicopee Community Garden extends to Rivers Park
CHICOPEE – Chicopee Community Garden is in the process of expanding its second location in Rivers Park.
The original community garden is located in Lincoln Grove Park. In 2014, the idea for the garden was born and the Chicopee Community Garden Committee met with the mayor’s office and the planning department to further develop the concept.
With a grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Healthy Food Fund, the Chicopee Community Garden Committee was able to receive $ 5,000 to help fund the park.
On August 1, 2015, there was a first shovelful of dirt at the Lincoln Grove site.
“It was so popular. It was wheelbarrows, gloves, rakes, shovels, cardboard, the wood to build the 6×12 beds and that was it. We did and made 19 beds that day and it was amazing. We just worked really hard and we did it all, ”said Kimberly Morrissette, Chicopee Community Garden Committee member.
Since then, the Lincoln Grove Garden has added more beds to accommodate the handicapped and disabled. There are now 22 plots at the Lincoln Grove site.
Morrissette said the committee hopes to eventually expand to all of the city’s parks.
Any Chicopee resident can register for the community garden. There is an application fee of $ 25, although Morrissette said no one is turned down.
“No one is turned away. The reason we are asking for the $ 25 is exactly that. It all goes if someone can’t afford the plot fee and also goes for tools, equipment, garden maintenance and all those things, ”she said.
Applications come out in early spring, and this year Lincoln Grove Garden has filled all their spots. Each person receives from May to October a 6×12 plot where they can enter and garden at any time.
Morrissette said the Chicopee Community Garden also hosts fundraisers and accepts donations to help keep the garden running with topsoil additions, purchases of manure, fertilizer and new equipment.
In 2019, they hosted a yoga and cocktail party event for $ 25 where all attendees could do an hour of yoga in the backyard, then receive a voucher to get a garden-themed drink at a local facility. .
“It was so well received. We had about 40 participants. It was a big, big turnout and we were hoping to do it last summer, but with COVID-19 we couldn’t. So we hope to get something back on track according to the guidelines, ”said Morrissette.
One of the Chicopee Community Garden’s original missions was to help tackle food insecurity in the region, according to Morrissette.
“It was extremely important for us to tackle food insecurity in our community first and foremost. This is where it all comes from being a good neighbor and we wanted to promote this idea of community and well-being for our neighbors. It was a way to promote health, wellness and sustainability and to provide green spaces to all of our residents in a dignified way, ”she said.
The River Park expansion will include 18 garden plots. In 2019, the Department of Parks and Recreation received a grant from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. With this grant, they worked to beautify Rivers Park. Morrissette said the Chicopee Community Garden Committee had been approached to help them by creating a second garden there.
“The second garden is underway and we can’t wait to cut the ribbon and put on the sign that was donated by Sunshine Village and get things done there,” she said.
The opening date of Rivers Park is yet to be determined.
Morrissette said she was very excited to give more residents access to green spaces and fresh food in the new garden.
“I’m so excited that we’re going to have gardens in two completely different areas of Chicopee, basically at both ends of the city. That way we make it a bit easier for the people who live on this side to get in, ”she said.
Those interested in keeping abreast of the expansion and learning more about the Chicopee Community Garden are encouraged to visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ChicopeeCommunityGarden.