Garlic will star at downtown festival this month

It’s been a good year for garlic in Milford.

The fruit of local garlic growing endeavors will be spotlighted at a garlic festival fund-raiser in the gazebo on the Milford green Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 to 2.

The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 29.

The event is sponsored by the Recreation Department and the Benson Crump Memorial Garden organization.

“It has been a good year for garlic, and four delicious organic varieties, which include Music, German Hardy, Siberian and Elephant, will be available for sale,” said Linda Ball, supervisor of the Benson-Crump Memorial Community Gardens Program.

In addition to the garlic, there will be free garlic recipes.

And if that’s not enough for garlic lovers, there also will be garlic experts available to answer questions on growing garlic organically and what varieties do best in this region.

Local gardeners grow the four kinds of garlic organically at the community gardens in a community plot set aside specifically for garlic at Eisenhower Park.

“We are in our fifth year growing the garlic and holding the garlic festival,” Ball said.

The idea to grow garlic at the community gardens began when one of the longtime community gardeners, who happens to be a veteran farmer and expert garlic grower, donated a large amount of his garlic to the community gardens.

He proposed, during a monthly meeting, that the community gardeners grow the garlic and then hold a garlic festival as a fund-raiser for the community gardens program.

“Our first garlic festival was so popular and we had so much fun organizing it that we decided to turn it into an annual event,” Ball said. “Everybody loves garlic and it is such a healthy food to eat.

This year Mary Treat from Treat Farm in Milford and Jim Zeoli from Shamrock Farm in Orange will bring farm fresh seasonal vegetables to the garlic festival.

In addition, the community gardeners are putting together theme baskets filled with treats.

Local beekeeper Ralph Harrison will also join the event, bringing beeswax candles and honey.

All proceeds from the garlic festival fund-raiser will help purchase and install Solidlock full perimeter deer fencing at the Benson-Crump Memorial Community Gardens on North Street.

Statistics for 2012 showed the number of deer per square mile in New Haven and Fairfield counties to be between 45 and 55. The normal rate is 10.

“This year we are estimated to be up to 65,” Ball said.

The Benson-Crump Memorial Community Gardens Program is a practicing organic community garden in its 45th year of operation.

It includes 135 plots and more than 250 participants, and is run by the Milford Recreation Department. Participants pay a small fee for their garden plot.