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Grow Annapolis Takes Root

Good earth still open for gardeners

Peter Alois helps Cristina Smith set up a tomato cage at the new Grow Annapolis Hollywood Farm ­Community and Giving Garden.

On a farm in St. Margaret’s, land that had been in sod has sprouted raised beds for a new community garden. The one-half-acre space gets full sun, has good fencing to keep out the deer and plenty of water. Thanks to the dedication of the farmers and members of Grow Annapolis, those with shade-bound yards now have a place to go — not just to raise food, but also to make new friends. And the Seznec family, which owns and runs Hollywood Farm, benefits from the added diversity the garden brings.
    “All the family is tickled pink that things are growing here and giving life to this side of the farm,” says Hollywood Farm owner J.F. Seznec. Seznec and wife Thackray rent out land for sod farming, raise Katahdin sheep and do some lumbering of trees downed in storms. The posts for the community garden’s deer fencing came from such trees. The Seznecs also trenched lines for the water to be pumped and installed hoses. Volunteers built and filled the raised beds with good soil.
    The Grow Annapolis lease was brokered by Seznec’s daughter, Gwen Manseau — who lives on the farm with her husband and children — as a way of bringing the community together and making the farm more diverse and sustainable. The community garden “fits into that model,” she says.
    At the garden’s June 14 opening, board member Anne Van Allen said “a love for the Earth we all have is the glue that made this happen.”
    That half-acre is divided into 25 rentable plots. Twenty three measure 10 by 20 feet; two 20 by 30 feet.
    Trees are one reason gardeners have sought out this growing space. New gardener Cristina Smith, who lives in St. Margaret’s, says her yard is too shady for sun-craving annuals, such as Wally Watermelon and the sugar pie pumpkins she’s raising.
    Grow Annapolis board member and garden coordinator Kevin Gautrey grew up in California with a shady lawn. His mother had only a tiny sunny space for growing. Now, he has 200 square feet to grow fresh veggies and chat with fellow gardeners.
    Gautrey got to work double-digging his plot after Saturday morning’s official opening. He’d already put in lots of tomatoes and basil and was laying a pine-bark path for better access to both sides of the garden bed.
    He plans to keep his gardening adventure fully green by biking to Anne Arundel Community College for morning classes, then heading to the garden in the afternoon for maintenance and harvesting — about 23 miles round trip.
    After the official opening, Van Allen was also back to work. She had tuned up a rototiller to turn an unrented plot. Volunteers will plant the unrented plots in sweet potatoes and melons for the Lighthouse Shelter and local food pantries. Or for you.
    Ten plots are waiting for gardeners: info@growannapolis.org.