• 63°

Community garden ready to feed Smithfield

People gathered Tuesday near the kayak launch at Smithfield’s Windsor Castle Park to celebrate the Smithfield Middle School students and their finished garden.

The community garden is an approximately 24-by-30-foot enclosure with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, herbs and cucumbers. Volunteers will be able to pick the vegetables and flowers to donate to various food pantries in the community.

Gifted Resources Teacher Jennifer Smith said there were more than 100 students that contributed to building the garden over the last three years, along with numerous community partners and sponsors. Isle of Wight Materials Company Inc. provided the soil, Farmers Service offered plants and mulch and the Smithfield Ruritan Club gave money for the garden’s wooden framework.

Many others donated time and elbow grease, like Smithfield resident Willard Peden, 73, who just happened to be in the neighborhood to lend a hand.

“He saw me struggling one day with the chicken wire,” Smith said, laughing.

Peden was impressed by what these students wanted to accomplish.

“The idea was great and they did a great job,” he said.

Smithfield High School ninth-grader Tori Sheran, 14, came up with the idea three years ago with fellow student Taylor Hallinan. The two of them wanted to build this garden to spruce up the area and provide for the community.

After many hours of leveling and digging into the ground, planting seeds, building wooden containers and laying fresh compost, just seeing the finished product is its own reward, according to Tori.

“To see it go from my laptop screen to real life is really cool,” she said.