Though the final plan still lacks a few of the finer details needed to get the project started, Shrewsbury Council threw its support behind a proposed community garden Monday night, stopping short of introducing a resolution only in favor of awaiting a complete report.
Tim Thomas, an Environmental Commission and Shrewsbury Garden Club member, discussed the garden project, as well as two potential locations during a public hearing on the matter. According to Thomas, the gardeners have settled on two sites, both in opposite fields adjacent to , where they'd like to establish their first garden.
Either site is acceptable to the garden club, pending the outcome of separate soil tests to determine alkalinity and other conditions.
The sites would accommodate between 40 and 60 individual plots, Thomas said, which would be leased to garden members for a nominal fee. Some plots would be set aside for use by civic organizations, like the Boy Scouts of America as was suggested during the council meeting. There would also be a push to donate some percentage of the food grown to needy families or local food pantries.
Though the garden hasn't been publicly advertised, Thomas said 40 people in 26 different Shrewsbury households have said they'd be interested in leasing their own plot of garden land.
Monday night was the first time the garden plan was presented to the council. Aside from a few questions from interested council members, including Councilman Tom Menapace who asked when he can lease a plot, the plan received conditional approval of sorts. In order to make the garden happen, the borough will have to provide water access and service and also foot the bill for an eight-foot tall fence designed to keep below and above ground critters out of the garden.
Thomas said he was pleased with the council's support of the project.
"The idea has always been positively received (by borough officials)," Thomas said. "We've just had to put it all together."
Among the details that still need to be ironed out are the lease fees. Thomas said the cost to lease a plot would likely fall somewhere between $20 and $25. The idea is to generate a small bit of revenue to help offset the costs of maintenance. The plots would carved into the ground, with raised plots available for seniors and the disabled.
Borough Administrator Tom Seaman said Open Space funding exists and could likely pay for some start up costs, including purchasing and installing the fence.
The Shrewsbury Garden Club has set a planting deadline of May 1, though warm weather means they can start planting as soon as the garden is up and ready to go.
A resolution approving the garden could appear on the council's agenda in two weeks.