Anita Rockefeller has been hard at work in the weeks leading up to the annual Bainbridge in Bloom event, though not entirely on her featured home garden.
Rather, Rockefeller spends much of her time in the community garden she began on her own private property.
The Rock Farm is impressive, to say the least. The extensive stretch of land is home to 16 separate community garden plots that are 500 square feet each. It is entirely fenced in; after all, island deer have voracious appetites in unprotected gardens.
The farm also expands beyond the fenced area with flowers, herbs and other plants that deer do not prefer to munch on.
Rockefeller got the idea for the farm in 2008, when the economy began to tank.
“My husband and I were walking to the mailbox in the fall after the economic crash,” Rockefeller said.
“We spontaneously said that we have this empty field and it was left over, and we said we really should grow food because the food banks were going to have a lot more people in need.”
Since then, the Rockefellers built the plot of land up to be a community garden.
“One thing led to another and we graded, and textured slopes, fenced an area, brought in irrigation and top soil,” Rockefeller said.
The name “Rock Farm” originally came from when Rockefeller began digging into the soil to transform the land into a community garden. She found herself hauling off a considerable portion of rocks from the land. Other gardeners have come to call it as such as a sort of slang for “Rockefeller.”
Rockefeller herself grows food for Helpline House. She brought the island charity more than
30 pounds of food last week alone.
“The first year we did
1,200 pounds of food,” she said. “It all went to Helpline.”
But Rockefeller doesn’t farm alone at the Rock Farm. Around
34 other islanders use the community farm, and more are on a waiting list to get in.
When she first put word out about the community garden, she merely put up a few fliers around town. Word of mouth did the rest of the work.
Rockefeller hopes that she won’t have a waiting list for long. Not because she can get people into the Rock Farm, but because others will create more community gardens so people can grow their own food.
“I would like to encourage people who have land that is doing nothing, to use it to grow food,” she said.