AUBURN — Charis Heisey, coordinator of the Auburn Community Garden Initiative, is hoping the first community garden in the city will lead to a lot of naturally grown produce. 

The Webster Street Community Garden at Webster and Chestnut streets will have its first bloom this year with the help of 20 to 24 local gardeners, tending to individual 4- by 10-foot raised beds. The focus is fresh, organic and chemical-free produce. 

Heisey expressed excitement about opening the  garden.

“Our goal is to incorporate people from all walks of life, all ages and abilities, Heisey said. “We’re excited to start in this neighborhood.”

She hopes there will be more gardens next year.

“It would be exciting to have food growing in Auburn,” she said. 

The garden is open to all Auburn residents, with a primary focus on the Webster Street neighborhood.

The first information session and sign-up for the garden was held at the Auburn Community Garden Initiative open house Tuesday night at the Auburn Police Activities League Center on Chestnut Street.

The committee’s hope is to include the whole neighborhood in the project.

“It’s theirs to plant and maintain, but organizers will be available to help,” Heisey said. 

Residents were excited about the garden, and were already debating what to do with any excess produce. Some suggested donating to a food bank; others, to a free produce stand at the end of the season.

Audrey Niskanen, who lives down the street from the PAL center, was excited to get back into gardening.

“We used to have a garden, way back,” Niskanen said. “I know how to grow string beans and tomatoes.” 

A $10 fee is required to rent a plot for the season, which will run until Oct. 15. A second sign-up session will be held April 13. 

For more information about the garden, contact [email protected], or the Auburn Recreation Department at 207-333-6601. 

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