By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — A community garden could take root in the Windham Depot neighborhood next year.
University of New Hampshire graduate student Jeff Malloy, a Windham resident, received approval last week from selectmen to start the garden.
“We’re looking to establish 20 garden beds to start, with room for an additional 10 if the program is popular,” Malloy said.
He is pursuing the project in conjunction with his master’s degree studies at UNH.
The garden would be located on land belonging to Crossing Life Church at 122 North Lowell Road, near the Depot Road intersection.
Community development director Laura Scott said the town has an agreement with the church to use the land at no cost.
Pastor Shawn Foster attended the meeting.
The garden would be about a quarter acre in size. Users would sign up on a first-come, first serve basis, Scott told selectmen.
“I’m proposing this as something to bring the community together,” Malloy said.
He sees it as more of a civic engagement project than a money-making opportunity for gardeners.
“This is an opportunity for the community to work together to potentially donate food,” Malloy said.
The concept pleased selectmen.
“This is really cool,” Selectman Al Letizio Jr. told Malloy.
He related how his great-grandparents, living in Lawrence, worked a community garden plot in Methuen.
Selectman Roger Hohenberger said it sounded like a great idea, but he was worried about how it would be policed.
Hohenberger said he could see someone coming before the board to complain that their ripening tomatoes had been stolen.
“I’m hoping that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Scott said there are no plans to have someone monitor the garden, but users will agree to abide by rules and she said gardeners tend to look out for one another.
Selectmen approved the project without dissent.
“We’re looking forward to that big harvest next fall,” Selectmen’s Chairman Phil LoChiatto said.
“You guys could, as a group, get a plot,” Scott told selectmen.
“That’s a good plot to have,” LoChiatto said.