Sharon Community Gardens
by Jan Adler
In a corner of the Deborah Sampson recreation area are the Sharon community garden plots, where some eighty families grow flowers and vegetables for their tables, as they’ve been doing for the past four decades.
As soon as the Town purchased the 59-acre Sacred Heart property in 1974, requests came to the Selectmen from residents to use the buildings and grounds for community activities: initial ones were nonprofit bingo, a fraternal organization, a private school, and . . . gardeners.
At their meeting of December 26, 1974, Selectmen gave tentative approval to establishing community gardens if twelve or more people were interested. The request for the Town to provide land for this purpose came from Peter and Joanne Kinney and from Frank Sullivan, a former Selectman who understood the value to his community of acquiring land dedicated to public recreation. He was instrumental in the Town’s acquiring the Community Center and Sacred Heart properties and in creating the Recreation Department.
An article by the Kinneys in the Sharon Advocate, January 2, 1975, asked, “Do You Want Town Gardens?” It said, “Garden plots up to 50 x 50 feet may be available to residents this spring . . .if enough persons show interest. . . . Now that the energy crunch and the world food crisis has jolted Americans into thinking about becoming self-sufficient, one fundamental way to do this is to turn back to the earth and raise our own food.” Forty-four people responded to the first call. Six sites were investigated. Mr. and Mrs. Rosaire Ares, who lived in the house next to the garden, selected this site. Mr. Ares continued to be our expert adviser.
The first gardens started in spring 1975 at the location where the tennis courts are. Paul Lopes of Norfolk County Extension Service offered his agency’s help in testing soil and instructing gardeners who needed information. There were fifty-five gardeners.
In 2013 we had eighty-five garden plots (with a waiting list). The diversity among the gardens and gardeners reflects the many cultural traditions in the Town. Gardeners often share ideas, veggies, and space. They enrich the soil, adding nutrients and compost. The unobstructed sun shines most of the day, improving chances for a great season of gardening.