Grab your seeds and shovel because South Silver Spring will soon have it’s very own community garden!
The Montgomery County Parks Department will announce next month the creation of a community garden for South Silver Spring at the corner of King Street and Eastern Avenue, after finalizing an agreement with a private landowner and business.
The space will host 21 individual plots of 200 square feet and will be fitted with a cistern capable of holding 1,500 gallons of water, says Ursula Sabia Sukinik, a community gardens coordinator with the Department of Parks. The cistern will be filled by a nearby fire hydrant.
But the arrangement is not yet finalized. While Montgomery County and landowner have reached an agreement, the adjacent 7-Eleven business needs to approve the deal.
“Right now everything is in place on our side,” said Sukinik. “We’ve done soil testing… [but] what we are waiting for at this point is all the interested parties to sign-off. In theory we could be ready for the spring.
Sukinik says that personnel changes in 7-Eleven’s regional management has slowed the approval process.
This location for a community garden was originally suggested to Councilmember Valerie Ervin at her first meeting with SSSNA three years ago on October 22, 2007. Since then, Ervin has championed the need for community gardens all around the county and has enlisted the parks department in finding county owned land to expand the concept. The trouble — in South Silver Spring and throughout many other parts of the county — is that there is a lack of public land available for such gardens.
Enter Mr. Maisel, the land owner.
“She called and said she had an idea,” recalled Maisel of his conversation with Ervin about the King Street lot. “I think the garden could not be a better use.”
Maisel, a patron of the arts, says he thought of turning the land into a sculpture garden, but quickly understood the yearning for a public garden.
“It is a great opportunity to show a collaboration between the government and private enterprises,” he said.
Despite the sluggish pace of approval by the 7-Eleven, Maisel and Sukinik say all the appropriate environmental tests have been done to guarantee that the nearby gas station does not have an adverse affect on the garden.
Citing “great soil condition,” Maisel attests that the gas station is “fairly new” and that “the tanks are built to a standard that are better than the past.”
The parks department will announce an open enrollment later this year, with winners selected through a lottery. Historic users get right of refusal, but that won’t be a factor since this is a new garden. And if you are lucky enough to be chosen, the annual rent for a standard 200 square foot plot is $30. In larger gardens, a 400 square foot plot is $50.
Representatives from the Department of Parks have already accepted an invitation to the next SSSNA meeting in December to discuss the application process and details of the garden, as they did in March of 2009 to discuss plans to create other gardens in Silver Spring. (Note: you can watch video of their presentation by clicking the first clip here.)
In a neighborhood with thousands of residents, 21 plots is not nearly enough to fill our gardening appetite, which is why the parks department recently announced the creation of another community garden at the Fenton Street Urban Park, on East-West Highway just over the Metro tracks. A meeting to discuss that garden, which will host approximately 30 plots, will be held on November 8 at Montgomery College’s Commons Building room (#CM211) from 7-8:30pm.