Sharing our garden bounty at the Giving Garden
“Squirrel and Little Groundhog stewed tomatoes, boiled corn, stir-fried veggies and even stuffed and baked a zucchini, saving the seeds to plant the next year.
There was so much more than they could eat themselves.
‘What do we do?” asked Little Groundhog.
‘We share,’ said Squirrel.”
In the bright and heartwarming children’s garden story by farmer and author Lynne Cherry, How Groundhog’s Garden Grew, Squirrel teaches Little Groundhog all about growing food, and sharing with friends when they have more than they need.
In that spirit, the Giving Garden at Coogan Farm continues to share beyond supporting the food insecure of New London County. This summer, instead of harvesting the abundant fruits in the garden, Farmer Craig Floyd and his team have chosen to leave the elderberries, Concord grapes and blueberries on the vine and bush. “With the extended drought conditions throughout the Northeast this summer, wild creatures everywhere are seeking sources of water. We can’t just leave a dish of water out for the birds, that isn’t how they hydrate themselves,” explained Farmer Craig. “We can support them by leaving berries and grapes for them to eat, and do they ever!”
The stately elderberry bush in the center of the Giving Garden is nearly stripped of ripened fruit—pause a moment to observe, and you’ll spot cat birds flocking to the branches. On the edges of the garden, the Concord grape vines and the high-bush blueberries are similarly denuded.
“I estimate we’ve shared more than five hundred pounds of fruit with this local habitat,” Farmer Craig says. “We have more than we need this year (Note: 16,000+ pounds of produce have been donated to the United Way of Southeasten CT through the Gemma Moran Center this season!), and as a nature center, it’s important we do what we can to support them and help them through this season of drought.”
A side bonus of sharing? Farmer Craig reports the Giving Garden tomatoes remain nearly untouched by birds, unlike other years. “I think they’ve had their fill of berries, so our tomatoes now go to the Gemma Moran Center perfectly red and ripe without them poking a beak in the flesh.”
How Groundhog’s Garden Grew, by Lynne Cherry, is one of the many delightful nature stories enjoyed by children in the early childhood education programs at the DPNC. Fall science-based child education programs are enrolling now at https://dpnc.org/early-childhood/ and at https://dpnc.org/homeschool/.