Plenty in bloom at Milford's community garden

There’s plenty blooming at the Benson Crump Memorial Community Gardens at Eisenhower Park.

“All in all, it looks to be another great season,” said Linda Ball, a Recreation Department supervisor who oversees the organic community gardens.

The community gardens is a collection of 135 20- by 30 foot plots at Eisenhower Park that residents lease for a nominal fee — $25 a year for residents/$30 for non-residents — and then harvest whatever they choose.

All the plots are taken this year, so there is a waiting list, according to Ball. But it’s never a bad time to add one’s name to that list.

This past weekend, there were some long-time gardeners tending their plots, and some new gardeners. Dan Rusanowsky has long been a regular at the gardens, and he was busy tending plants Sunday with his son, Mark.

Nearby were Abder Gartani and his son, Sammy, first-time gardeners here. Gartani said he lives in an apartment, so the community plot is gives him a chance to grow cilantro, squash, mint, radishes and a whole lot more.

“I come every day after work,” Gartani said, adding that he’d love to get a second garden plot for his wife.

Every year is different, in some way, at the gardens, according to Ball, and this year the

weather has been a very popular topic.

“The warm, then cold spring was frustrating and certainly delayed the start of our planting season,” Ball said. “We've just completed a three-year internal plot fencing upgrade project which entailed removing all the decades-old fencing around 135 plots and installing new vinyl-coated metal fencing providing a more uniform, durable and safe system. It looks great and blends so much better with nature.”

Ball and four volunteers planted vegetable plants donated by Glendale Orchards in three Plant a Row for the Hungry plots, and all that produce will be donated to local food shelters. Several types of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, white and purple eggplant, frying peppers,and cabbage will eventually go to the Beth-El Shelter, St. Gabe's, Milford Christian Academy, the Milford Senior Center, Grace Baptist Church, as well as the New Haven Soup Kitchen, St. Ann's in New Haven, and the Home for the Brave in Bridgeport.

There’s also plenty of garlic planted in anticipation of the annual Milford garlic festival, which is slated for Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the gazebo on the Milford Green.

And there’s plenty more going on.

“We have just embarked on a beautification project at the gardens and have designed two pretty perennial and annual flower beds at the front entrance, filled with beneficial insect-friendly plants from Filanowski Farms,” Ball said. “It looks so colorful and welcoming and we will also be adding more native plants along the North Street side of the gardens to encourage more pollinators.”

While most of the gardeners are individuals or families, there are some groups, including two new groups working plots: The first is The Foundation High School, under the direction of Michael Nicholson. The teens have been designing their plot, building small benches to sit on and planting many vegetable plants.

The second group is an employee group from Home Depot. As part of their employee wellness program, 16 employees are working the land, composting, planting and cultivating all of their planted crops.

“Mother Nature is smiling upon us, and we like that,” Ball said.

For information on garden plots, call the Milford Recreation Department at 203-783-3280.