Something beautiful is happening at Hopkinton-Everett Lake. Amidst the lush greenery and beautiful postcard perfect scenes, a community garden is growing; a garden blooming with delicious, seasonal vegetables lovingly tended by the Henniker and Hopkinton Lions Clubs of New Hampshire. The true beauty of this community garden isn't the array of colors of the vegetables that are springing forth from the soil, but the fact that the garden provides food for many local disadvantaged people.
Three years ago, Dr. Bruce Trivellini, Henniker Lions Club member, came up with the idea of a community garden. He and other members heard that land was available for lease at Hopkinton-Everett and after going through the process of obtaining a license, the community garden was born.
"Planting this year began about early May," said Jerry Eisen, Henniker Lions Club member currently in charge of the garden. "The planning is still in progress and will continue all through the end of July. We practice succession planting so that new crops are ready for harvest throughout the season."
Recognizing the garden to be a sustainable and worthwhile initiative, the New England District Team granted the Lions a four-year license to use the land without cost. In addition, the District waived license processing fees. Having a garden that serves the community at a Flood Risk Management Project that also serves the community is a good fit. "It's utilizing Corps land when we don't use it for Flood Risk Management," said Hopkinton-Everett Lake Project Manager Steve Dermody. "The garden is a beneficial use and is definitely a worthwhile project."
The community garden boasts a myriad of nutritious and delicious vegetables to include tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, cabbage, carrots, beets, zucchini, summer squash, onions, green and yellow string beans and sweet potatoes. "The first tomatoes will be ready by the end of July, while carrots and beets will not be large enough to pick until the end of August," said Eisen. "String beans will be our earliest crops while potatoes and sweet potatoes will take until September to be ready."
Tending a garden such as this one requires a great deal of work. According to Eisen this includes soil preparation and maintenance -- for example soil test, fertilization and annual lime distribution -- removing rocks in the spring and fall, planting, cultivating, harvesting and watering. Although the Lions Clubs are the primary care takers, other community volunteers roll up their sleeves and pitch in. "We've had New England College students and the Henniker Tiger Cubs participate," said Eisen. "Anyone is welcome to help."
Once volunteers begin picking the vegetables in July, they will begin delivering them to the Henniker and Hopkinton food pantries. "The garden also benefits 15 Henniker seniors with disabilities that prevent them from leaving their homes," said Eisen.
Those who volunteer not only harvest food that feeds the hungry, they plant the seeds of community service and giving back that can be cultivated for years to come.
The Lions Club is a service member organization that does community volunteer work, serving the unique needs of the communities they are based in, with a large variety of programs.
The Hopkinton-Everett Lakes Flood Risk Management System in Contoocook, New Hampshire is a two dam system completed in 1962 for the protection of the citizens of Merrimack Valley. To date the two dams are credited with preventing more than $217 million in flood damages.