Garden Spotlight: New Discovery Garden

New Discovery GardenBy Dory Cooper

The New Discovery Garden is located at Winooski Valley Park District’s Ethan Allen Homestead, just a short peaceful bike ride from Burlington’s North End. This garden, previously focused on children’s education, underwent a major renovation throughout this spring and early summer.

The garden is one of 14 managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. It was established in 1996 as the Children’s Discovery Garden and was renamed in 2008 as the New Discovery Garden with greater participation from Vermont Community Garden Network’s Community Teaching Garden program graduates.

This year, with the help of volunteers from VCGN’s Day in the Dirt! and hours of hard work from the New Discovery team, Parks and Recreation expanded the garden, increasing the number of plots and adding larger plots.

When the garden became a community garden in 2008, “the layout was inherited as a teaching space and it needed a format catered towards growers,” said Dan Cahill, of Burlington Parks and Recreation. This year’s work increased the garden size by 2,000 square feet. “We are always at capacity with our gardens and the expansion will allow us to accommodate more gardeners,” Dan said.

Other new features include a significantly more durable fenced in area to keep away critters, a new compost system, plots specifically reserved for the food shelf, and even two cherry trees!

“A lot of people are first time growers.” said Roy Collette, a current site leader and community gardener of more than 10 years. “Now that we have more half plots, it’s more likely they’ll come back each year. I think that is the best part of the expansion.”

The garden is also designed to be a no-till garden. Tilling on a yearly basis interferes with the growth of microorganisms below the surface that create healthy soil. With the no-till system, cover crops will be grown in the fall and then layers of compost will be placed on top of plots so that nutrients can soak into the soil through watering. Roy said he is looking forward to working with the new system this year and into the future.

By the end of August, the garden was overflowing with colorful flowers and vegetables from rainbow chard to sunflowers and squash galore! The New Discovery Garden is a beautiful, functional space, thanks to the community’s hard work and initiative.

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