Full Sun in the Community Garden

Unfried Green Tomatoes

in my shady garden, my tomatoes dream of a sunny hillside in Tuscany

The Gate to the Brighton Community Garden - and 12 hours of sunshine

At a recent dinner gathering, a friend placed a beautiful mixed green salad on the table and proclaimed that she grew every tender leaf. She and many others living in Brighton are experiencing the pride and joy that comes from working a piece of land at the Brighton Community Garden. And many for the first time, can appreciate what full sun can do do a crop of vegetables.

The Brighton Community Garden is located on Westfall Rd. adjacent to the historic Buckland House. In its second year, it has expanded to 100 10’ by 10’ plots that Brighton residents rent for $25 for the season. Four of these plots, I am told are being used to grow food for a local food cupboard, enhancing the town’s mission of greener and sustainable living.  

Brighton residents who live in older neighborhoods enjoy streets with gas lighting, sidewalks, and very large old trees. Growing vegetables, especially those coveted sun-ripened tomatoes, is difficult in dappled sunlight.  I have obsessed about the trajectory of the sun and how it moves on my property ever since my first hopeful summer.  Each spring, I had high hopes that the sun would burst through the overhead branches and quickly ripen the tomatoes and pumpkin vines that stretched eagerly to meet it.  By the time the summer solstace passes, I am usually stuck with green tomatoes until very late August.

This is why neighbors attempt to grow sun hungry tomatoes and rambling raspberry bushes any place the sun may peek through, like strips of property by the curb or alongside a driveway.   

It wasn’t until I went for a walk in the community garden did I understand what full sun does. You mean you can have ripened tomatoes before the first frost? Enough eggplants and zuchinni that you are begging strangers to take them off your hands?

As I explored the garden, I saw creatively landscaped plots with decorative garden markers, hand crafted scarecrows, and stone paths between rows of climbing pea and cucumber vines. Others were a bit sparse and badly in need of weeding.

Of course, vegetable plants require regular watering. During my visit, several people on breaks from work quickly entered their plot in office work clothes to water. For irrigation, the town places several rain barrels throughout the garden. They are filled either by a hose, or hopefully, rainfall.  Gardeners bring watering cans to these buckets to water their crops.

Brighton resident Sue Gardiner-Smith has been instrumental in the town’s efforts in sustainable gardening.  She is growing potatoes, peppers and zinnias among other produce with her teen-aged son. In addition to the garden, she and others in the town have had discussions with Brighton officials about someday founding a Community Supported Agriculture farm on the property of the old Groos Farm. Next year, I just might apply for a plot of my own. If you are interested in Brighton’s sustainable gardening or farming efforts, or just want to grow a garden in true full sun, send an email to brightoncommunitygarden@gmail.com.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

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