Since our first year in operation, the garden, thanks to the efforts of area irrigation specialists, like Brian Maynard from URI, has had drip irrigation throughout. The first year, for lack of an alternative, we ran water from a house adjacent to the garden….with the owners’ permission (they were garden members)! Last year, we got permission from the town and Broad Rock Middle School to run water from the outside valve on the east side of the school. We ran a hose through a culvert under the road, up the hill and to the main irrigation line. Worked great until the fire marshal had an issue with the proximity of the hose to the exit on that side of the building. We then ran the hose off the front of the building, down into a drain and under the road. Members of the garden board took turns turning the water on in the morning and off at night. It worked….pretty well. There were the inevitable hose malfunctions and leaks that got quick attention, and the system brought water to all parts of the garden. Garden members were expected to work with board members to configure their own drip system to attach to one of the hoses near their own garden plot. It took awhile, but eventually everyone that wanted it got drip irrigation. What always makes this interesting is the infinite number of different ways people lay out their plots. While we encourage a bed layout and planting that follows the north-south orientation of the plots, invevitably people would get creative and create garden plots that ended up being more challenging to irrigate.
Cut to this year. People came out to begin planting in early May, but water wasn’t available at first. A large cistern that was brought in last year and installed behind the tool shed, was drained and filled several times. The usual late spring ritual of bringing water from home in cat litter containers and milk jugs continued.
There were several setbacks that slowed down the process of getting water from the school this year. The hose from the school was cut by a lawn mower, and then the end of the hose was lost inside the narrow drain under the road and took some time to retrieve. New hoses and fittings took time to replace. But the garden members and volunteers worked hard to bring the garden the wet stuff. They took some grief from members who felt their $45 a year plot fee entitled them to water on demand, but most people took it in stride, and realized we are still working these things out. A couple of weeks ago, the new hoses were rolled out through tick-infested grass, the water was connected, leaks in the system repaired, and we are now going with the flow! Thanks to everyone that helped with the very involved process of bringing water to 44 plots on a half an acre. This is a huge undertaking for a bunch of community gardeners, but it always works out in the end. Now, let the greening begin.