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Greenwich Garden Sows Community Bond

Helma Varga raked leaves and prepared her plot at the Armstrong Court Community Organic Garden with seedlings for herbs and vegetables she could enjoy during the summer. “Just look how high my potatoes are coming,” said Varga. “But I can’t believe how fast the weeds are growing.”

The 15,000-square-foot garden space started three years ago to create a space for members of the public housing complex and community members who didn’t have their own areas for planting.

“There are a lot of people in our community that are somewhat invisible and who are struggling. I like the idea of everyone having equal opportunities, like healthy food,” said Patty Sechi, a Melrose Avenue resident who kick-started the garden’s rebirth.

The garden was active from the 1960s to the 1980s but lost support and fell dormant for nearly 30 years. “The existing space was already there. There was sun, soil and everything we were looking for,” Sechi said. She led a group of seven to bring new life to the garden. “It took five weeks of clearing to see one end to the other,” she said. “We didn’t realize how big it was.”

In its first year, the plots were exclusively for the residents of the 144-unit Armstrong Court Housing Complex. But not all of the garden's 20 plots were filled, so in the second year it was opened to community members, such as Varga, who needed gardening space. Now there’s a waiting list, said Sechi, and she hopes to create other organic community gardens throughout Greenwich.

“It’s a huge project, and we’ve had problems come up, first it was deer, then woodchucks,” she said, adding that fences had to be built to prevent damage from both types of animals. Over the winter, a shed was damaged, so the Silver Shield Association donated a new one for the planting season. A benefit concert was held at Audubon Greenwich on Sunday featuring local singer/songwriters Michael Logen and Sechi’s son Jesse Terry.

“The community has really come together in support of this effort,” said Sechi. “But people enjoy having their own real estate, and it’s becoming so popular. It gives us hope for the future.”

What are some other community efforts being made in your area of Greenwich? Comment below or email ahelhoski@mainstreetconnect.us.

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