HANCOCK — The Hancock Community Garden, which is farmed by individuals as well as by Master Gardeners on behalf of those in need, just literally grew as well.
The garden on the Eastside Road, which has been planted and harvested for six years, was recently expanded by about 1,300 square feet on the southern end.
“The enlargement is for the Master Gardeners to be able to grow more food to donate,” said Renata Moise, a member of the Community Garden Committee. “The Master Gardeners have donated thousands of pounds of organic produce over the last few years.”
Those donations are made under the Maine Harvest for Hunger program, which is part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers.
The Master Gardener program teaches people gardening techniques.
The goal is to grow food to provide fresh, local produce to area shelters, food pantries and neighbors in need.
Some volunteers focus on gleaning commercial fields for leftover harvest while others, such as the Hancock gardeners, grow and donate entire garden harvests.
The original Hancock Community Garden was 110 feet by 110 feet and was plowed, prepared and fenced for the first time in the summer and fall of 2009. It was first planted the following year.
Moise said the new area will need a cover crop this fall and winter with the addition of planting vegetables next spring.
“We had to replace the fence with a stronger fence due to porcupines that were getting through our plastic fencing,” Moise said. “So we used that opportunity to do an expansion we had been planning.”
She said the added space will allow the Master Gardeners involved with community growing to plant, tend and harvest more food for the needy.
Those working in the Hancock Community Garden donate food to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, the Emmaus Center and Everybody Eats, all in Ellsworth.
The gardeners also grow food for the Hancock Grammar School, which distributes it to local residents who need it.
“Our garden also has many Hancock and Sullivan residents who garden their own 10-foot-by-10-foot plot, or two, for their own use,” Moise said.
“So it is a combination of gardens grown by the Master Gardener group and individual plots grown by community members for their own tables,” she said.
Moise said everyone meets one Saturday each month during the growing season to work on the garden paths, fencing, water system and other infrastructure.
“Otherwise, each of us tend plants and harvest their own plot,” she said. “The Master Gardeners work as a team to plant, tend and harvest their plots.”
The community garden has several yards of goat manure compost delivered each spring for use by all of the gardeners.
“The garden is completely organic,” Moise said.
The Hancock Community Garden was created by the Crabtree Neck Land Trust on a portion of 30 acres of field and forest.
The idea of the Community Garden was conceived by Crabtree Neck Land Trust Board members in the winter of 2008.
The Community Garden has a drilled well, a hand pump if needed and a solar pump system that provides water to a tank/tower/gravity-fed hose and barrel system within the garden.
The acreage also includes blueberry fields as well as old apple trees that are being revived.
Moise said she was meeting with residents in Lamoine who are interested in starting their own community garden.
Many of the improvements in the Hancock Community Garden have been paid for with grants, although the Crabtree Neck Land Trust provided seed money.
Each community gardener is asked to make a $20 annual donation, if possible, and the money is used for supplies such as fencing, hoses and other equipment.
“This year has been a rough gardening year — more pests than we ever saw before,” Moise said. “The cold spring and then the dryness and the porcupines. But we keep gardening and end up with over flowing amounts of food.”