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Plans for a community garden at Hales Court take root

Published 5:19 pm, Thursday, December 26, 2013
  • A community garden may be developed on the north side of the common lawn at the Hales Court hokusing complex. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed

    A community garden may be developed on the north side of the common lawn at the Hales Court hokusing complex.

    Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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By Jarret Liotta

There's a good idea growing at Hales Court and the town's Green Task Force hopes it can help.

"Some people in Hales Court are interested in having a community garden," Pippa Bell Ader, task force vice chairwoman, said of the Westport Housing Authority complex with 78 units. "GVI is willing to help sponsor a community garden."

GVI -- Green Village Initiative -- is a regional nonprofit that helps promote farming and gardening projects.

"GVI is really good at putting these things together," Ader said at the task force's Dec. 17 meeting. "We just need some funding."

Ader said, however, that the housing authority board has expressed some apprehension regarding the project. "They're worried about, I think, how to manage it, how to stop vandalism, how to divvy out the spaces fairly," she said. "It just feels like they're a little hesitant."

"Given that this is an issue of supporting sustainability in the town ... perhaps an endorsement from the task force to the housing authority board would help move the project forward," said David Mann, task force chairman, adding that the issue of who would manage the garden seemed to be the primary issue of concern.

However, Carol Martin, the executive director of the Westport Housing Authority, expressed support for a community garden, assuming residents favor it.

"They did do a presentation to my board," she said of GVI and Ader. "Myself and the board were very impressed with the work."

"The long and short of it is the housing authority (is) completely supportive of any initiative that our residents bring forward to us," she said, noting the matter would be discussed in more detail in January.

Martin said the authority is actively looking for new programs aimed at meeting different needs of residents.

"We're looking to do what really good housing authorities do, which is provide as many services as we can and to get other partnerships or stakeholders involved," she said.

"We're thinking about trying to start up a 4-H program and collaborating with the 4-H folks," she said. "We're also looking at an after-school program."

Martin said the authority will speak with the town's Human Services Department to see about creating joint programs and opportunities.

"It's been a long time overdue here at the housing authority, (but) we're completely looking at comprehensive community services," Martin said.

She said several residents came to a recent monthly meeting of the board to present the idea of establishing the garden. "There were several of our residents who showed up to speak in favor of it," Martin said. "We also had a resident who showed up to share that he was not in favor."

"We'll send out a survey," she said among the 78 families at Hales Court. "We want to afford residents every opportunity to provide their input."

"There's a sense of the meeting that his type of sustainable community development project is valuable," Mann said of the task force.

"It fits with our vision of Westport," Ader said.

"We promised (the board) that in two years if that thing wasn't going to be working, we'd take it down," she said.