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How Does Our Garden Grow?

photo by J. Reiff

Experiences and Opinions from The Habitat For All Garden

By Barbara Murphy

As 2023 comes to an end, The Habitat For All Garden marks its fourth year open to the public. And what a year it has been! Over the course of four very rainy months, we doubled the size of the garden to its current 10,000 square feet, installed 150 shrubs to attract birds, built a pergola and arbor, created a vegetable garden, and fenced the entire space. Our educational outreach expanded as well with informative signs, demonstrations, and workshops. Phew! Thanks to everyone who made this leap possible.

Bringing an idea to fruition - in this case, imagining a public garden in a former squash field - is daunting. Since its inception in 2018, the creation of the garden and the Habitat For All initiative has been a series of questions and answers and lots of trial and error. There was no playbook to go by; we had to decide: How big should it be? Should annuals be part of the mix? How wide should the paths be? What about water? Where is the money coming from? How do we provide passive education? These are just some of the questions a small team has grappled with weekly.


Quotes From Habitat For All Garden Visitors:

“A truly beautiful, educational, inspiring place. I am so happy and proud to have this garden in Bethel.”

“Bravo. I applaud your vision and all who sweat to bring this vision into fruition. You have enriched the beauty of where we/I live.”

“We love the Pollinator Garden! It's a little slice of heaven on earth. So grateful to have it to go to throughout the season.”


Now, it is your turn to provide some feedback. A survey was created to assess the relevance of the garden both on a personal and community level. Mahoosuc Land Trust would love to hear from you! If you have not done the quick survey (it takes about 3 minutes), here is the link:

Thanks. Your opinions and suggestions may help to shape the garden and programming in the years to come.

Here is a snapshot of survey findings from an initial 61 respondents:

  • 59 visited within the last 12 months, with summer and fall being the most popular times to visit.

  • Most are full-time residents.

While visiting (multiple answers allowed):

  • 76% (45) got inspiration for their home garden/plants.

  • 88% (52) learned new things about gardening/pollinators.

  • 30% (18) meditated/relaxed.

  • 66% (39) attended an event.

  • 29% (17) visited with children.

  • 61% (36) took photographs.

  • 71% (42) read materials provided by Valentine Farm.

  • 59% (35) interacted with a volunteer.

  • 44% (26) volunteered in the garden.

And many did or planned to:

  • create a pollinator garden, 63% (37),

  • expand an existing garden, 64% (38),

  • eliminate/reduce pesticides, 32% (19),

  • search for/purchase neonic-free plants, 34% (20).

Many want classes both in person and via webinar on:

  • How to get start designing a pollinator gardening,

  • How to start a vegetable garden,

  • How to collect, store, clean, and plant seeds,

  • How to Build a 12-month calendar of gardening to-dos,

  • Natural ways to control pests and insects.

I am very grateful to those who have taken time to respond to the survey and am looking forward to more insights provided by you. I think of this garden as a community asset and each of you as part of the garden team. Speaking of teams, if you are not a member of Mahoosuc Land Trust, please consider becoming a member today! Committing to an MLT membership makes you part of the team — a growing group of interesting, dedicated people taking action on the many issues facing our natural world from open space to pollinator habitat. Who knows, you might even become part of the gardening team!

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