A garden grows, and thrives, in Washington
The Judea Garden in Washington is a thriving community garden that gives back.
The names of individuals, schools, churches, civic organizations and businesses from the Greater New Milford area adorn small wooden signs staked into the ground near certain crops, such as beets, kale, cabbage and cucumbers.
These groups have adopted certain crops and help tend to them in various ways.
Dedicated volunteers weed, harvest and tend to the garden with TLC on a regular basis, loading pound after pound of fresh goods into vehicles for distribution to residents of the Greater New Milford area and beyond who have limited financial resources.
Produce is given to local food banks, as well as people in smaller town that don't have food banks.
In addition, when there is an overabundance of crops, produce is also sent to Torrington food banks.
Garden volunteers have also used produce to make meals in soup kitchens in New Milford and Waterbury.
Produce is also delivered to the Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut, based in New Milford, where students use the produce to make meals for the New Milford food bank and for distribution in Washington.
Since its inception in 2009, more than 13,000 pounds of produce have been distributed throughout the community.
In 2011, the garden's advisory board decided to extend the season through cold frames, covers and low tunnels to garden into December and began harvesting in April.
In addition to expanded gardening techniques, volunteers have experimented with unique produce, including Chinese cucumbers and Chinese string beans.
Today, two gardens -- one at the Macricostas Preserve and another on private land -- flourish with an assortment of produce and flowers. Potatoes, squash, beets, broccoli, kale, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, leeks, turnips, beans and kohlrabi are grown.
Donations of time, money and gardening items are welcome.
Tax-deductible donations may be made payable to St. John's Episcopal Church, with a memo "Judea Garden Project," and mailed to the church, P.O. Box 1278, Washington, CT 06793.
The garden hosted an open garden day Sept. 9 to educate and showcase its splendor.
Spectrum photographer Deborah Rose was on hand to capture images of the beauty and the volunteers' hard work.