TORRINGTON – There’s nothing better than a fresh tomato, late in the summer, after you’ve set your water and you’re ready to call it a day.
That fresh tomato, right off the vine, juicy with water you’ve given it, intact because you’ve cared for it – it’s a fruit of your labor. It could go on a burger, in a salad or be perfect on a BLT – you’ve got all of the possibilities in the world.
That satisfaction of eating a fresh vegetable or fruit you raised is one typically reserved for people who live in the country or own a yard big enough to till a garden. That doesn’t have to be the case in Torrington, though.
The Torrington Community Garden, located on the Corner of 27th Avenue and Main Streets, has open plots for anyone who wants to experience the satisfaction of growing their food, whether they live in an apartment, rent a house or just don’t have the space. Large plots are $100 for the summer, smaller ones are $35 – and after the fee is paid, you’re ready to plant.
“Everyone has their own plot,” said Braden Barrows-Nees, garden coordinator. “They’re responsible for the whole plot. They’re responsible for soil prep, weeding, planting and watering and harvesting. Everyone has their own spigot, so they can run water and water their plot.”
This is Barrow-Nees’ first year as the garden coordinator. He grows food for his family there, including all manner of vegetables, onions, garlic and this year he has designs on growing a giant pumpkin for the local fall contest.
“My parents were big gardeners,” he said. “We always had a huge garden with tons of tomatoes and everything. I just enjoy having my own fruits and vegetables. It’s relaxing more than anything, to get your hands dirty.”
The garden is a good place to do that. According to Barrows-Nees, there are currently only five gardeners utilizing the facility, and some of the garden beds might need more work, as they sat unoccupied last year and, as sure as death and taxes, weeds took over.
With so much empty space in the garden currently, he has plans to grow the garden and make it easier for everyone to use.
“My goal is to fill the garden with gardeners,” he said. “One of my future goals is to have a lot of small plots people can garden and they don’t really have to do too much prep. It would be small enough that the community garden itself might take care of it and people can basically come and plant the plants and then we would automatically water it, and then they will come harvest.”
Barrows-Nees also said the garden is seeking donations items that would be beneficial to its purpose of providing garden space for the community. The wish list for the community garden includes a garden shed and communal tools, so gardeners won’t have to ride around with tools in the car, or load them up every day when it’s time to tend their plot.
He’s also looking for wood chips to cover walking paths, compost, cedar posts and boards to build raised garden beds in some plots for accessibility purposes, split-rail fence materials and a rototiller. He’s also open to ideas on ways to improve the garden for everyone.
“It’s all a work in progress,” he said. “I’m hoping we can get some donations of tools, and I’d like to put in a garden shed so we don’t have to haul our tools back and forth every time. You could just come here, garden and then go home. You can maybe stop on your way home from work instead of having to go home and get tools.”
It’s a good place to plant, too.
“It’s pretty good growing,” he said. “I was pretty successful last year and I had more than I can eat and more than we could eat.”