In October of 2011, Lisa Sylvestri, a representative from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy met with a group of local gardeners, several Talbot County Master Gardeners and Trish Payne, Director of the St. Michaels Community Center to discuss the idea of creating a community garden in St. Michaels. There was a very positive reaction to this suggestion, and a vision of a community garden in St.Michaels took form. Ms. Sylvestri recommended a source on community gardening from the University of Missouri that became the guide for the garden’s structure and organization.
The first steps were to find a spot for the garden and to establish a mission statement and guidelines. The town commissioners graciously agreed to lease a town-owned vacant lot between Conner and Fremont Streets for five years. The second step was to establish the following mission statement: The objectives of the St. Michaels Community Center Garden are to give residents access to fresh produce, educate children and adults in good gardening practices and turn a vacant lot into a vital and appealing space where people may gather, work together and socialize in a space that builds community.
Landscaper Roger Galvin, who created the historic gardens at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, designed a garden plan, and community activist Laurie Pratt became the driving force in getting it built. Thanks to start-up grants from The Rotary Club of St. Michaels and Christmas in St. Michaels, the vision began to become a reality. The garden structure itself was created through in-kind donations from Shannahan Artesian Wells, Inc., Electric by Miller, Choptank Electric, Leonard Landscape Management and donations of labor and funds from many other community members. Forty raised beds, a storage shed and compost bins completed the hardscape.
On April 15, 2012, a little less than a year from inception, over 70 community members turned out to celebrate the grand opening of the St. Michaels Community Center Community Garden. Many of the gardeners, eager to begin, had already planted cool weather crops, and the garden was vibrant with new growth.
The garden has fulfilled its mission by providing an inviting and attractive public area for people to gather, work together and socialize. The Wilson Reading Garden and the Community Garden complement each other beautifully and tables and benches provide comfortable spots for people to visit, enjoy a picnic or just observe the garden beds.