Mission and History of the Garden
The Community Garden at Swendsen Farm preserve, also known as the Sam and Dot Swendsen Community Garden was founded in 2010. The founder, Jeanne Sargent, had a vision of a garden that would provide healthy, fresh, organic produce for Bethlehem residents. It would also provide opportunity for individuals and families to grow their own vegetables through the renting of garden plots. In addition, the garden would be a source of educational, hands on gardening experience for students from a variety of settings.
The garden is now managed by a core group of local residents. These gardeners along with a dedicated group of volunteers maintain the community portion of the garden. Overall the garden measures 55 foot by 130 foot and has gardens and trees outside the fenced in portion. Inside the perimeter of the garden vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits are grown. Outside the perimeter is an asparagus bed, raspberry and blueberry patches and two fruit trees. At this time there are 22 garden plots which have produced ample amounts of produce for the gardeners.
The garden has provided produce to those in need in town and to our neighbors in need in other towns. Over the past eight years the community portion of the garden has produced between 1200-1500 pounds of organic produce/year. The produce has been distributed at the Bethlehem Food Bank, the affordable housing center, and to individuals known to be in need. Weekly produce excess has been shared at the soup kitchens and food banks in Waterbury and Torrington.
There are young people who come to work in the garden throughout the planting and growing season. These adolescents and young adults come from Wellspring, Woodhall School, DCF Wilderness program and Taft School. They have planted blueberry bushes, harvested potatoes and garlic, and have helped closed the garden by spreading manure and mulching garden beds.
To rent a plot or to volunteer in the garden please contact us!