LEICESTER, Mass. — The blue sky over Leicester drew a few green thumbs to the Hope in Hands Community Garden on Thursday, with gardeners of all levels of experience coming together to help cultivate the project's first sprouts of the season.
Although new to gardening, Ashley Daige and her 4-year-old son, James, contribute to two of the 11 plots, and together they ventured out in the morning to pull weeds and help beautify their little corner of the garden.
"I enjoy it because it's giving me experience in gardening," said Daige, who hopes to one day have a garden of her own. "When I finally do have my own yard, I'll at least have a clue as to what I'm doing. I want to grow as much as I can, so the best way to learn is just by doing it."
Harry Brooks and his 7-year-old son were also working on the plot, and, even at his young age, Matthew has become quite the eager gardener.
"It teaches him how to work, which is awesome," said Brooks.
In addition to being a fun activity for families to do together, the garden also allows them to give together, as at least 20 percent of the crops harvested from each plot are given to the Leicester Food Pantry and Leicester seniors.
The project is spearheaded by Lois Dorr Wicklund and co-chair Beth Rowden, and is now in its third season of growing and giving.
According to Wicklund, the concept of the garden is to get as many schools, organizations and citizens of the town as possible to work on preparing, planting, maintaining and harvesting it in hopes that the garden will not only yield produce, but foster a sense of community through a shared goal.
From its inception, the garden has been a collaborative effort between Christ Episcopal Church and the community, with the Leicester Water District allowing the church to use its land, a local farmer plowing the field and a dairy farmer providing manure.
As the garden is highly visible from Rt. 56 near the entrance of Leicester High School, Brooks said that "everybody drives by and sees people working on it," helping to encourage more active involvement in improving the community.
"If everybody chips in a little bit in town we can help make this a better place for ourselves," said Brooks. "If they give an hour to anything, not just a community garden, it makes Leicester better for everybody."