Middlesex County Focus Group - 2009

Report by Maureen Gillis

The Middlesex County MG Focus Group’s Model Community Garden saw no dampening of innovation and enthusiasm during its third year of operations. Seven 2009 MG Interns joined forces with the “old hands” to experiment with new techniques, introduce a cutting edge communications tool, and wage battle with pests to ensure optimal harvest donations to the Middletown soup kitchen and food pantry.

A much-appreciated grant from CMGA allowed the group to purchase a Compost Tea Brewer. The brewer creates an aerated solution of beneficial microorganisms that the group used several times over the summer as a soil drench to improve root systems. Next year, the group plans to test brewer results by selectively directing the application to certain portions of the Garden only.

Interns Chantal Foster and Maureen Gillis created an online communications network for the group to share Garden experiences, issues, and information on a daily basis. The Web site is an online Garden Activity Log and is also used to address garden challenges; post pictures and videos of progress and pests; provide crop and pest guidance; coordinate meeting attendance; and share historical information. If CMGA members wish to access this educational site, which has application well beyond the Model Garden, email Maureen at moberngillis@comcast.net.

Despite significant gardening challenges this year, heightened pest vigilance afforded the group significant educational opportunities while optimizing production. The new Web site was instrumental in keeping members advised about pest and disease conditions, and the steps required to manage these problems organically.

Read more about the history of this garden

Below: Tage Carlson demonstrates the compost tea brewer

Tage Carlson. Tea Brewer