After a successful first year, the Beach Street Community Garden in Port Jefferson is gearing up for its 2022 season.
Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who spearheaded the concept last year, said that applications are currently open through Jan. 31 to obtain a raised bed at the plot.
“The raised garden boxes at the Beach Street Community Garden are ideal for first-time gardeners and seasoned gardeners alike,” she said in a statement. “The garden regularly hosts educational programming. Community gardens are a great way to grow food, meet your neighbors, and connect with the land.”
Claire Gearns, age 10, is one of those first-time gardeners who has taken advantage of the community garden with her father, Rich.
“It’s fun to do and it’s a new hobby for me and if you didn’t get to try it, you should definitely try it out,” she said.
“As new gardeners we had so much fun growing our own vegetables and can’t wait to get our fingers in the soil again,” Rich added.
Right now, there are 20 raised beds available for rent and will be processed through a lottery. Community members who were the first group in the 2021 garden said that it was a great experience that brought everyone together.
“The highlight of this past year for me was participating in the Beach Street Community Garden,” said Isobel Breheny. “My family and I grew so many fresh vegetables that we were able to share some with others. I made new friends and had so much fun! It was relaxing and a great stress reliever to tend the vegetables each week. And in addition, I went to workshops to learn how to grow better vegetables for next year.”
Shannon Handley added that she, her husband and their two children also took a plot this past summer.
“We were able to walk with our dog to our plot every morning to check on and harvest our zucchini and cucamelon,” she said. “It was an amazing experience and helped us to foster a love of vegetables, gardening, and community in our kids. We are so excited for the 2022 season!”
The garden, located in a previously vacant lot that was once a playground, became a sustainable haven in 2021 when nearly two-dozen volunteers cleared the space out and assembled 24 raised beds to plant all different types of fruits, veggies and herbs.
“I live in a condominium community and really don’t have the space for a garden,” said Gwen Gnadt. “This gave me the option for a garden. I was able to plant so many things and had quite an abundant crop.”
Christine O’Reilly added that the community garden was and is a great way to learn from others.
“There were varying levels of expertise amongst the gardeners, so there was a great opportunity for information and vegetable sharing,” she said.
For those who are interested in applying for this year’s raised bed lottery, they can visit portjeff.com/communitygarden, download and complete the lottery form, and mail or drop off the completed form to Port Jefferson Village Hall by Jan. 31.
Raised bed lottery winners will be notified via email by Feb. 15.
Individual or family use raised beds are available for rent for $40 per bed for residents or $75 per bed for non-residents annually with four communal herb/flower beds for registered gardeners. All beds have timed drip irrigation and are surrounded by deer fencing.
Four of the raised beds have higher sides for gardeners with different abilities.