Greenwich Community Gardens is seeking town approval to create a community garden at the Montgomery Pinetum property on Bible Street in Cos Cob.
In a presentation to the Board of Selectmen Thursday, organizers said they want to create a gardening space for residents and local groups on a "small portion" of the 39-acre pinetum, located adjacent to the Garden Education Center.
The group is seeking a 10-year lease from the town so that 85 gardening plots can be installed on the property for a three-season garden. The group needs approval of a municipal improvement status from the selectmen before the plan can proceed to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Representative Town Meeting.
"We have a pretty good head start—we know what we're doing based on four years at Armstrong Court," said the group's Chairwoman Patty Sechi.
"It is an appropriate, sustainable public service," Sechi said. "We think this a great way to honor this tract this land. It would be a source of healthy local food and provide food to Neighbor to Neighbor, for garden education, outdoor recreation."
Sechi and vice chair Terry Browne Kutzen said the group wants to establish a private-public partnership with the town in which the private group would maintain public lands for use by residents. According to Kutzen, the plan would cost about $75,000 which the group would raise privately. The land was donated to the town in 1952 by Robert Montgomery who stipulated the land could be used only for recreation and horticulture.
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Rick Margenot, a Community Gardens board member, told the selectmen the group has met with and received support from neighboring residents and the Garden Education Center. The group already has the support of the Parks and Recreation Department.
The garden plan would be similar to the community garden the group established in 2009 at the Armstrong Court housing complex in the Chickahominy neighborhood of town. There, dozens of residents cultivate vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers primarily for personal use. There are some gardeners, including Kutzen who tend multiple plots to grow produce for the Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry.
First Selectman Peter Tesei said, "The level of detail presented is unprecedented. (This is) something that falls directly falls within the realm of what the donor would envision. From that persepctrive it’s a home run for the town—it will enrich the town in the long run."
If the selectmen grant the municipal improvement status and approve a lease at its Feb. 28 meeting, the group hopes to be able to continue through town approval process and break ground in May or June.