Why We Garden ...


Judith Desrochers, President
West Barnstable
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” 

- Mahatma Gandhi

Debbie Hempel, Advisor
West Barnstable

One hot day in June, my 8 year old daughter climbed off the school bus clutching a paper cup with a bedraggled seedling sprouting from the soil.  The shape of the leaves told me it was a young squash plant of some sort, but she declared it to be a “Cinderella” pumpkin.  

She had been to the garden with me several times that spring as we had turned over the soil, pulled out the weeds and rocks, and added compost and manure.  The tomatoes, beans, squash and onions were already planted, but we found one small corner for the “Cinderella” pumpkin.  I admit that I was not optimistic - I had failed at pumpkin growing before.  Into the ground went the tiny, leggy seedling.  

Together we watered and weeded and fed the pumpkin along with our other plants.  And that pumpkin surprised us all.  It grew and grew so that we had to keep wrapping it around the garden between other plants.  My daughter was delighted to watch tiny green pumpkins grow into four beautiful squat orange pumpkins that did look a bit like Cinderella’s carriage.  Each time we visited the garden, the pumpkins had grown.  It was a happy day when she proudly carried one of those pumpkins to school for her teacher.  

As Meetinghouse Farm grows and continues to offer more programs, it is my hope that more families will have the opportunity to garden together. 

Joseph Leary, Director
West Barnstable
 “There is inherited wealth in the land and inherited joy in working it.”
Diane Mulligan, Director
West Barnstable
“I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company.  Plants got a lot to say if you take the time  to listen.”  
- Eeyore

Cindy Olatka, Director

“The glory of gardening:

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.
To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

- Alfred Austin 

Debbie Richmond, Advisor
West Barnstable

“There are many tired gardeners but I have seldom met old gardeners.  I know many elderly gardeners but the majority are young at heart.  Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.  The one absolute of gardeners is faith.  Regardless of how bad past gardens have been, every gardener believes that next year’s will be better.  It is easy to age when there is nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for, gardeners, however simply refuse to grow up.”  

- Alfred Austin

Barbara Ryshavy, Director
Marstons Mills
At first sight, I fell in love with Meetinghouse Farm. That beautiful empty greenhouse peaked my interest as I drove by and I had to stop to inquire. Does anyone use this greenhouse I asked? Yes, the plan is to rent out the bench space and also to create community gardens out back was the reply. Can anyone participate in this endeavor I asked? Yes, please join us and help us grow. Oh boy!! I found a garden home away from home and have been hooked ever since. There were so many tasks to be done and I had nothing that needed doing around the manicured grounds of my condo. So, I "dug" right in to help, and with Judy's guidance and vision for the Farm, low and behold we have 30 Garden Plots to offer the community and 12 benches in the Greenhouse. There are still so many tasks to be done as the Farm is a work in progress. I get such joy in being able to participate in this process and feel a sense of ownership. I love my 15' x 15' garden plot and enjoy interacting with my fellow gardeners. Some years we have great bounty from our efforts and some years we do not. We are always thankful for another season to try again.
Earl Springer, Secretary
West Barnstable
As a teenager I worked with my grandfather maintaining the town cemeteries. Ever since then I have felt the need to be connected to the land. The farm fulfills that need in many ways: horticulture, agriculture, arborculture, stewardship of the land and a community of like -minded people. The farm is where it all comes together for me. As a long- time board member, it is gratifing to see the progress made so far and I am looking forward to  being part of the Farm’s future.
Dianne Walsh, Treasurer
West Barnstable

Although the fruits of gardening are fresh, nutritious veggies and beautiful flowers, my main interest is in the organisms living in the soil. Increasing fertility with organic amendments, green mulches and compost are of primary importance and have led me to worm composting in addition to building my regular compost pile. Right now I have over 2000 red wigglers in a vermicomposting box on my patio! Though the worms make a good compost, it is the myriad of microscopic life beneath the surface of every garden that creates healthy soil.

As gardeners, we have an opportunity to conserve and improve soil health by using soil enriching products and techniques. Meetinghouse Farm provides education and participation for those who care about soil as an essential natural resource.

"An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it. In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth. What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even though they are many, they work as one."

- Carol Williams, Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998


Ellen Merritt, Advisor
West Barnstable

I have come to believe quite simply, that I am fascinated by plants because they rise out of the soil to which I will eventually return. Gardening is an act of faith.


Meetinghouse Farm Board of Directors convene, July 2014