Robbins Farm Garden

Robbins Farm Garden - A Cooperative Learning Project

Robbins Farm Garden is a cooperative community garden project at Robbins Farm Park in Arlington, MA. Since 2010, we've grown vegetables organically as a group, created an educational resource in the community and continued the agricultural tradition of the farm at the park.
 
We garden Saturday mornings April - November and Wednesday evenings June - September. The project is run through Arlington's Recreation Department. Membership is limited to 20 gardeners and applications close on May 1st. Our annual $85 in fees covers all of our seeds and supplies.

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Robbins Farm Garden is a cooperative community garden project at Robbins Farm Park in Arlington, MA. Since 2010, we've grown vegetables organically as a group, created an educational resource in the community and continued the agricultural tradition of the farm at the park.
 
We garden Saturday mornings April - November and Wednesday evenings June - September. The project is run through Arlington's Recreation Department. Membership is limited to 20 gardeners and applications close on May 1st. Our annual $75 fee covers all of our seeds and supplies.

 

Signs ... of things to come

garden signs

Dick arriving with signs

 

We knew we were in for a treat when our CSO (or Chief Signage Officer) arrived this morning. Bearing at least a passing resemblance to St. Nick, Dick had all the garden's new and remade signs in a satchel slung over his shoulder.

 

These lovely handmade wooden signs are a hallmark of Robbins Farm Garden. Not only are they handy for remembering what's planted where, they also act as garden ambassadors for each of the different crops -- from Amaranth to Zucchini -- 24/7.

The garden, for me, so far

Part of my commitment to the project is to write for this website, and I've been doing that ... practically not at all, yet. But I did write something for a different audience — on my own blog — about my experiences so far, and wanted to share it here as well. Most other times I cross-post, I'll just add the text and/or photos in both places, but this method felt right this time.  

A Productive Rainy-Day Outing

The weather having prevented a pea-planting Saturday, a number of us instead took the opportunity to visit Waltham Fields Community Farm for their first seedling sale. Besides the crops we won't be starting from seeds at all, like tomatoes and peppers, there are cool-weather crops we knew we could get in seedlings from our Waltham colleagues or other sources to give the garden an early start. Some of these are items we'll also plant from seed in a few weeks, letting new generations of plants succeed the first (succession planting). 

On the way to Waltham we took a delightful sidetrip to Belmont Victory Gardens, a real surprise to most of us. The plots are large and fenced, and many are well-established; some had made use of storm windows to create greenhouses in situ. Garlic was in evidence on many plots, and flowers here and there had us dreaming of a spring Robbins Farm Garden with welcoming color.

The midday at Waltham included sitting in on a bit of Arlington resident and Robbins Farm friend Russ Cohen's "Edible Wild Plants" presentation, accompanied by splendid treats, including pie made with Japanese knotweed! His culinary abilities with invasives are outstanding. We cut the viewing short to attend the seedling sale and were very impressed with the offerings. We came away with ten 6-packs, of various lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower. All but the lettuces are ground-ready (the lettuces need a few more days indoors), and our plan at the moment is to convene Wednesday evening to put our first plants in the Robbins ground.

 

Before the beginning

Some of us (Lisa, Oakes, Alan, Elisabeth, Melanie, Erika and Mike) met today for about 3 hours to plot out the garden and to discuss the strategy for next week's Big Dig.

We figured out where the garden should be based upon distance from the playground and from the street.  We pounded stakes flush with the ground into the 4 corners of the plot, and then marked the garden with spray chalk that Mike had bought. Pounding in the first stake, we woke up a nice fat worm - a good sign!  It seem much smaller than I had remembered it being from the fall!  We also marked where the gate would go.

There was some discussion about modifying the garden layout, and some discussion about maybe making the paths narrower and having a central gathering spot to conduct tours.  Mike gave a demonstration of how a pickax can be used to skim sod off the surface.  There was quite a bit of discussion about what we could do with the sod.  Gordon Jamieson (an abutter) dropped by and talked about how we could fill some of the holes near the fence with the sod- this would also help with drainage issues he and his neighbors have been having.

We then started talking about our equipment rental decisions.  Initially, it seemed like most of us were in favor of not renting the auger to help keep in range of our budget.  To help with this decision, we dug a hole where one of the post holes would be.  We did not have the proper equipment, but we managed to dig down 14 inches without hitting ledge.  We were stymied by a couple of good sized rocks, but our experiment was pretty encouraging.  The soil seemed really nice and workable. We filled in the hole so no one would trip on it.

Membership

  • Membership is limited to 20 individual gardeners.
  • There is a non-refundable fee of $25 for the season, collected by the Recreation Department.
  • Gardeners will also be responsible for the cost of seeds, seedlings, fertilizer and other garden expenses. Each gardener's share is estimated to be $60.

Turning your Kitchen Scraps into Black Gold -- even in the Winter!

Vermicomposting, (the "official" name for using worms to do your composting), is a great alternative to outdoor composting, especially during the colder, winter months.  Using red worms in an indoor compost bin, you simply layer any plant-based scraps with some shredded paper (e.g., newspaper, but avoiding glossy paper and colored inks), wet with some water that has been allowed to sit uncovered over night (to off-gas any chlorine), and then cover the bin and let the little red wigglers do their thing.  I've been composting all of our kitchen scraps and indoor plant trimmings t

Rules and Policies

The following rules and policies are in effect for the Garden:

1. No gardening before 8AM and after dusk, seven days a week.

2. No synthetic herbicides and pesticides will be used.

3. The garden will be maintained sustainably, without damage to soil or surrounding area.

4. Nothing with offensive odors, such as raw manure, will be used.

5. No existing trees or shrubs shall be cut or damaged.

Seed & seedling sources

Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, promoting and preserving our agricultural and cultural heritage; headquartered in Mansfield, Missouri.

Botanical Interests - founded in 1995 to supply the highest quality seed (much of it organic) in the most beautiful and informative seed packets on the market; headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado.

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