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Gardeners begin raising produce for SHARE Food Pantry

MILFORD - On a stretch of land behind the SHARE Food Pantry on Elm Street, 10 gardeners are tending crops that will feed their families at home, and families who rely on SHARE.

Dave Momenee said that the idea for a community garden has been floating around for years but the struggle was always finding a place to put it. When organizers approached SHARE Director Christine Janson, she worked with them to find a place and a plan for the garden.

"We're providing the land, but the gardeners themselves are running the program," Janson said. "It's taking shape pretty well."

For the first season, Momenee said there will be 10 gardeners each responsible for one 10-by-3-foot garden box filled with rich, composted soil from the town's transfer station. The boxes have been made with donated lumber from PJ Currier Lumber and Wilkins Lumber, the local Achilles Agway has donated seed and plants, and Paul Bergeron has been hauling materials, including the soil and wood chips for the paths between the boxes, to the site.

"So far we haven't spent a nickel on anything," said Momenee. "We've even been able to get free advice from a woman who runs a community garden in Walpole."

Momenee and that the gardeners are free to plant whatever they want, so long as a portion of their produce goes to SHARE. Momenee and his wife are planting their box strictly to benefit the food pantry and are focusing on peas, spinach, radishes and lettuce.

"Another lady wants to try and plant eight different varieties of tomatoes to determine which ones will grow the best and taste good," Momenee said. "But everybody's different so they'll grow different things."

Thought there are only 10 gardens this year, Momenee said that the site has the potential to hold up to 30 of the garden boxes and he said more will gradually be added each season. But for now, the gardeners are focusing on establishing a strong organization.

"We're learning how to do this for the first time and to work together with gardeners from all different backgrounds," he said. "It's nice to have a chance to do this."

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