Article originally published in Tewksbury Town Crier

TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Community Garden, located behind the library at 300 Chand­ler St., was recently designated a People’s Gar­den by the United States Department of Agricul­ture. Managed by Peggy Bridges and Lauren Cun­ningham, the garden was established in 2016 for community members to have a place to grow food in a sustainable manner while providing benefit to others.

The garden sells its produce at the Tewksbury Community Market each week and there is also an honor cart in the library lobby where patrons can purchase excess produce. Proceeds go toward up­keep such as seeds, loam, compost and tools. The garden is sustainable, us­ing no chemical fertilizer or pest control.

Through a social media post about the USDA people’s garden program, Cunningham saw an op­portunity to have the garden considered.

“Looking at their website, there were many different ways to qualify for the designation, and the TPLCG checked almost all the boxes! We provide space for people to grow their own produce, for pollinators and other wild­life, community groups, library programs, volunteer opportunities for all ages, participation in the town market providing healthy food choices at affordable prices, donations to the community pantry, conservation of open space. I saw it as a chance to be nationally recognized for all the hard work put in by our volunteers and library staff, and draw attention to one of the many positive aspects of our town. I hope having the spot on the map helps to bring more visitors and volunteers to our beautiful space,” said Cunningham.

According to the USDA, the People’s Garden was named in honor of its founder, President Abra­ham Lincoln, who de­scribed the USDA as “The People’s Depart­ment.” Secretary Tom Vilsack started the first People’s Garden on Feb. 12, 2009 — Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

The program is design­ed to encourage sustainable gardens for food, wildlife habitat, beautification, pollination, and education and training, according to the USDA website.

The garden has 18 plots for individuals and community groups such as the Girl Scouts, the Mon­arch Waystation, a raised bed for a disabled adult group, and 25 plots for market and pantry veggies.

“This year we have do­nated about 14 pounds of garlic to the Tewksbury Community Pantry. Last year we donated 70 pounds of potatoes and many bags of mixed lettuce and spinach,” said Cunning­ham.

As part of the garden agreement, gardeners are asked to help water and weed a companion plot and to help with the market or special garden work days. The produce grown in those plots is harvested each week and sold on Thursdays at Liv­ingston Street.

As to the rainy summer growing season, Bridges said, “the squash is rotting and our tomatoes are suffering as a result of the rain… but the beans are going crazy.”

Larry Bridges helps out as well, and said that pests this year include blister beetles and hornworms. Despite the wea­ther challenges the group has been able to bring a nice assortment of produce to the market.

Assistant library director and garden liaison Ni­cole Goolishian has been able to use the garden for programming.

“This year the Child­ren’s Room, led by staff member Kat Lewin, has worked closely with John Ryan and Cathy Harmon of the Monarch Ranch to teach children about butterfly conservation inclu­ding housing caterpillars in their various life sta­ges in the Children’s Room, answering questions from parents and kids, and hosting butterfly release parties in the Gar­den. Also, this season, a group of volunteers via Valley Collaborative have hosted a plot which has been a great community partnership. Earlier this season the Garden also hosted a local Girl Scout troop as they worked on their garden badge and their efforts resulted in a gorgeous garden of zinnias that pollinators have enjoyed all summer,” said Goolishian.

Those interested in volunteering or obtaining a plot for next season should reach out to Goolishian at or by calling 978-640-4490.

Article originally published in Tewksbury Town Crier

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