Imagining ways Dresden & Company can help unite and support the village of Dresden is something Jim Lepi enjoys. One early spring evening while walking on Main Street he imagined a community garden. He had the space (with great sun exposure).
One thing he didn’t have was the time, or the experience for that matter. Fortunately he knew someone who could possibly help. He knew her life was busy too, but what the heck, busy people are the ones who get things done. She was a friend, a young mother and in his view, the get it done type.
The next morning Jim called D&Co. Founding Leader Ali Prince-Bendure and shared the idea for a community Victory Garden. Without hesitation Ali was on board. The two set about the planning what would be needed. Water, electric for the tools needed to construct the raised beds, soil and, most importantly plants.
“It all came together very quickly” said Jim, “just like it was meant to be.”
First, wood was donated for the beds, it wasn’t ideal but it could work. Jim had it delivered on a Friday night and on Saturday morning Ali and her husband Jessie got to work. The soil on the site was poor so Ali asked Lones Landscaping and Excavating if they could donate some. They delivered a truckload of good, rich soil the next day. They now had more than enough to fill the beds. By this time, people in the community were noticing that something was happening at that once vacant spot on Main Street. “Without even having to ask, people started offering to donate vegetable plants for our project” Ali said. “It was so wonderful how the plants and pots just started showing up.”
Throughout the summer the garden has flourished with tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, onion, cabbage, green beans, carrots, eggplant and corn. Both Ali and Jim can’t help but to smile when they talk about the garden. Especially during this time in our country when finding simple pleasures and safe distancing are so important. “It has given us something positive to focus on” says Jim. “It a beautiful and peaceful place, sometimes I visit in the late evenings – it’s a great stress reliever – and I always leave grateful that Dresden has Ali.
For Ali, it has a slightly different meaning. “When I was 10 or 12, I asked my parents if I could have a little garden, I planted strawberries, tomatoes and peppers” Ali said. “Since that time, I have been drawn to the satisfaction of planting and nurturing, then realizing the rewards of those efforts. This project has allowed me to combine two of my passions, helping my community and my love of gardening. But even more importantly, I was able to involve my children from the very beginning. They got to help with the planning, then planting, the weeding and the harvesting. They have learned so many things during this process – this has been our summer of teaching our children and a way for us to show our kids the fruits of our labor. It’s a time to be supportive and giving to our community.”
Victory Gardens, initially known as War Gardens, got their name in World War I as people on the home front were urged to grow vegetables to help supplement rationing and a strain on the public food supply. The gardens gained even more popularity in World War II, as gardeners felt empowered by their efforts and a sense of helping from afar.
The Dresden Community Victory Garden, located at 803-805 Main Street, embodies the spirit of those Victory Gardens. While creating a sense of community for those involved through weeding and watering, it also provides fresh homegrown produce for anyone who desires to stop and pick some as it ripens. Through the abundance and variety of plants, the garden is expected to have vegetables to harvest through late September. And while this season may be nearing an end, we can all rest assured that plans are underway for next year’s Victory Garden.