Still growing after all these years
By Sean Gossard
Since 2008, the Hillwood Manor Community Garden has been a welcome site along New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park to learn about sustainable gardening and local ecology, and it’s a beautiful place to relax and spend time outdoors.
Last month, Takoma Park’s first community garden celebrated 10 years with a re-dedication ceremony and picnic that featured guests, including Mayor Kate Stewart, Councilwoman Talisha Searcy and retired city gardener Mike Welsh.
“We had neighbors come out with no history with the garden,” said volunteer Pam Sparr. “It was really nice getting new people there.”
The project began in early 2008 as a way to help revitalize neighborhoods through “greening” initiatives. A group of volunteers, including a fifth- and sixth-grader, helped to pitch the idea to the city.
“We wanted it to be an intergenerational and multicultural effort from the beginning to reflect the diversity and beauty of our neighborhood,” according to the group.
The garden itself is actually two adjacent spaces near Sligo Creek Park that are not fully connected. Because of the locations, gardening in the area required cooperation from Takoma Park, Montgomery County and several state agencies.
Takoma Park helped play a big role in negotiating with the jurisdictions to get the project off the ground. The City also provided a bulk of the funds, paying for a stone retaining wall and water pump.
Since its creation, the difference in the area has been stark. Gardening crews have received compliments from drivers, walkers and residents waiting at two nearby bus stops.
“The garden has evolved beyond our expectations, and it’s grown organically (no pun intended),” Sparr said. “People have been using the gardens to memorialize loved ones, and we have embraced that.”
As for the future of the garden, planners hope to create a more sustainable watering solution, raise more money for plant material and add new landscaping rocks after the old ones were stolen. They also hope to get younger people involved in the planning and upkeep of the gardens.
“In the next 10 years, we want to see new leadership by the next generation of neighbors,” Sparr said. “We want to do more to engage with younger people.”
Those who wish to volunteer to help with the community garden should email Carol “Chipper” Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can receive community service credit for volunteering.
This article appeared in the October 2018 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.