KENNETT SQUARE >> You could almost hear John Denver, Pete Seeger and Arlo singing “The Garden Song’s” — “Inch-by-inch, row-by-row” — as the little kids dashed through the ribbons and released the lady bugs in the 2017 Kennett Community Garden on Friday night.
It was a little chilly and certainly cloudy, but the spirits were high as parents and their children gathered to hear how things were going with the project this year.
Steve Denno of Kennett Square, who is the manager of the garden in Anson B. Nixon Park, has been at the head of it for five years. He could not help being enthusiastic about all the help community and business members had donated to make it a success. Notable among the many were Laurel Valley for the soil, Exelon for financial support plus labor, Kennett Square for the land and his friend the plumber who constructed the piping to supply water.
He was also happy about something else: the growth.
In the time he has been in charge, the number of 3-by-10-foot plots has grown from 42 to approaching 75. Not only that, he said, but the diversity of members has expanded to include all ages, ethnicities and financial strata of the community.
Denno pointed out that the garden was much more than just plants growing.
For one thing, it had great educational value.
The Kennett Square Preschool Coop students grew the ladybugs that were released to protect the leaves from aphids. And the kids at Mary D. Lang started seeds. And this was all in the spirit of the founder Suzanne VanMetre, who, nine years ago, got the inspiration from teaching the book “Seed Folks” at Kennett Middle School.
She said the theme was more than the plants. It was a story of how people working on a garden from different backgrounds had much in common,
And even in the midst of its success and growth, the Kennett Community Garden this year is still a work in progress.
When the resources are available, Denno said, there will a children’s garden, patio and a picnic area. Already there is a section where volunteers pitch in a grow food for the Kennett Food Cupboard.
“Last year we donated 500 pounds. This year there will be three times as much,” he said.
The garden is at the base of the hill in the park, down behind the tennis courts. It costs $25 a year to join and participants must sign a pledge to help volunteer on an as-needed basis, use only organic materials, keep things tidy and behave themselves. They also agree that unharvested crops will be donated to Kennett Area Community Service foods cupboard and that they won’t bring their pets into the garden.
Already peas and salad greens like spinach and lettuce are being harvested. Later on they expect to see strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. And don’t forget: Some people just grow flowers, which is fine.
Everybody is welcome to join. Got to Anson B. Nixon Park online, and there is a link and e-mail to the community garden. That’s where the instructions and contacts are. Denno will accept applications and respond to all contacts, he said.