JAY — Months of preparation and hard work at Spruce Mountain Middle School’s first community garden has resulted in lots of learning and nearly 135 pounds of fresh vegetables for the Tri-Town Ministerial Food Pantry in Livermore Falls.
Last year, Trevor Doiron, a seventh-grader at the school, organized volunteers to build and work in the four 4- by 12-foot garden beds, and attended classes on gardening offered by the University of Maine Extension Service.
The community also stepped forward to help with materials, money, labor and a new sign posted just below the school identifying the garden.
“It was an honor to lead this project this year and I am already looking forward to next year,” Trevor said in his report.
Harvested were six pounds of carrots, almost 63 pounds of cucumbers, six pounds of green beans, and 60 pounds of tomatoes.
Trevor said he and other student volunteers harvested vegetables each Monday night starting in August. His grandmother, Patty Doiron, delivered them to the food pantry in the basement of Eaton Memorial Methodist Church in Livermore Falls.
Mariette Castonguay, inventory manager for the food bank, said the students’ project was really appreciated.
“The produce they grew was really good. It was such a nice gesture for the young people to think of people in need,” she said.
Student Lucas Alley said he volunteered because he wanted to help people. He was also surprised at how much work it took.
“It’s not as easy as it looks. You have to have the right amount of water and fertilizer,” he said.
Trevor said he learned that planting tomatoes farther apart and green beans closer together probably would have produced higher yields. He also dealt with some large, green tomato hornworms, and heavy rains that resulted in replanting some of the produce.
He said he plans to not only make those changes for next year’s garden, but also add two more 4- by 12-foot beds for more vegetables, including green and red bell peppers.
Teacher advisers Denise Acritelli and Robert Taylor said they were pleased with the students’ project.
“It was wonderful,” Acritelli said. “The kids really pitched in and did their best.”