Farmington grows garden from busy traffic island

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FARMINGTON – The Farmington Conservation Commission, with the help of local businesses and a Maine Department of Transportation grant, have created a garden where sand and barren land once defined a large traffic island bordered by homes and small businesses.

Over the past month, a sidewalk has been installed away from the busy road, flower beds have been added and several shade trees have been planted. Other additions, including a community events sign, are on the way.

The idea for the garden came from Town Manager Richard Davis and the conservation panel. They came up with it more than a year and a half ago.

The design for the park was created by Robert Zundel. A professional landscape architect, Zundel volunteered his time to create a design that would allow the project to be considered for a MDOT grant. While the MDOT supported the project, it was delayed for more than a year due to its inability to qualify for a gateway garden grant award. The project was eventually awarded a $2,500 grant through the AmeriCorps Volunteer Program last summer, allowing the project to progress.

According to organizers, construction of the park would not have been possible without donations from local businesses as well as town agencies that allowed Zundel’s vision to blossom.

E.L. Vining & Son donated hundreds of cubic yards of loam to replace the triangle’s sandy soil. The Farmington Water Department volunteered its time to install a water faucet to allow trees and flowers to be watered, a necessary addition for work on the garden to continue. The Public Works Department dug up the existing sidewalk, which ran directly next to the road and replaced it with a new walkway set back from Route 2 and designed to make the entire triangle safer for pedestrians.

The bulk of the actual digging and planting was done by the highway crew and members of the Conservation Commission over two weeks. Commission member Erick Apland worked for hours, often in pouring rain, to fill in the three flower beds added to the triangle. Alvin DaCosta, Linda Davidson and others spent weekends planting shrubs and perennial flowers as well as several shade trees.

Grass seed was also planted throughout the triangle to create a more park-like atmosphere. A bulletin board being constructed by SignWorks is slated for installation soon. The board will be used to alert Farmington residents to events and occasions, and replace the plastic temporary banner signs now in use.

Linda Davidson, who spent two of her Saturdays planting in the triangle, remarked on the importance of the garden and the Conservation Commission in general.

“Part of what makes this town great is all of the greenery – the trees and the flowers,” she said, leaning against a grass rake. “We’re just helping to maintain that.”

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