Silver Spring community garden could come to Fenton Street park
Montgomery Parks plots adding gardening space to Fenton Street Urban Park
Fruits, vegetables and flowers could soon grow in abundance along Fenton Street if Silver Spring residents support a plan for adding community garden plots.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has acquired new space next to Fenton Street Urban Park at 7904 Fenton St., and the land has been slated for community gardens, which have grown increasingly popular as a way to offer green space to those with a passion for planting.
There will be a meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Montgomery College Commons Building to present the garden plan to residents, said Ursula Sabia Sukinik, community gardens coordinator for Montgomery Parks. If the community supports the plan, the garden could open for planting by early spring 2011, she said.
"We are looking to meet with the community, because there has been a request for more gardens down county," she said. "There's very little open space that's not being used for recreational use."
Kathy Jentz, editor and publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, said she thinks community gardens would increase public use of the park.
"Community garden space is in such high demand, and there are so many waiting lists, especially below the Beltway area," said Jentz, who moved near the park in 2001. "Every growing event I go to, people say, Where can I get a plot? I want to grow, but there's no garden plot.' "
The park is now divided into two green spaces, a larger one at the corner of Richmond Avenue and Fenton Street and a smaller one at the corner of Burlington Avenue and Fenton Street. The community garden would occupy part of the larger space, Sabia Sukinik said. Montgomery Parks currently refers to the space, which features benches, as a "resting area."
"This seems like an ideal location," she said. "It's full of sun, there is street parking. It's not currently being used for recreational purposes; ... from our point of view, it seems like it would be a great location."
If the plan moves forward, parks staff would manage the area outside the fenced-in plots, while community gardeners would maintain the growing space and paths, she said.
Montgomery County now boasts 260 garden plots spread out over four community gardens. The existing gardens are the Sligo Mill Overlook Community Garden in Takoma Park, the Briggs Chaney Community Garden in Silver Spring, the Bradley Park Community Garden in Bethesda and the South Germantown Recreational Park in Boyds. A total of 300 gardeners use this public land to grow their own fruits and vegetables at a low cost. The two plot sizes include a 200-square-foot plot that costs $30 per year and a 400-square-foot plot that costs $50 per year.
Community gardens are so popular in the county that there is already a 200-person waiting list, said Sabia Sukinik. To help meet the demand, more community gardens are also in the works countywide, including sites at three Montgomery County Public Schools and an expansion of the South Germantown Recreational Park garden. These plans could potentially double the amount of plots for next year, she said.
"Down county has the greatest need and the greatest request," Sabia Sukinik said.
The Silver Spring Master Plan calls for an expansion of Fenton Street Urban Park to add green space and create a southern gateway to the area, said Bill Gries, land acquisition specialist for Park and Planning, so acquiring more land for public use would fulfill this vision.
Park and Planning acquired the two parcels of land it will use to expand the park in 2009, one from James J. Madden Inc., a plumbing and heating contractor, and another from the trust of John P. Madden, totaling about 0.4 acres, Gries said.
The parcels contained a house, a small warehouse and a garage that has since been removed, Gries said. Park and Planning wants to acquire two more parcels of land owned by Philadelphia Avenue Associates and a right-of-way owned by the county which would expand Fenton Urban Park to a total of 1.3 acres, he said.
Montgomery Parks will need to remove the gravel from the construction site, bring in new soil and level the ground in preparation for adding in-ground garden plots, Sabia Sukinik said.