Wayside Garden Rows

Four months ago, South Portland resident Liberty Bryer had a lush green grassy lawn, the American homeowner’s dream. And then she decided to do something about it. Working with staff and volunteers from Wayside Food Programs, Bryer has torn up the lawn and planted a garden.

Bryer’s lovely, though unproductive, lawn has been replaced by a tangle of overflowing tomato plants, tripods of creeping, climbing pole beans, towering sunflowers, and bushy herbs. The produce grown in the garden is being harvested by volunteers and used in Wayside’s hunger relief efforts at its free community meals and mobile food pantries. Bryer approached Wayside volunteer coordinator Carly Milkowski after learning about a similar garden project in Cumberland that had fallen through due to the sale of the land. Having recently bought a home in South Portland after moving to Maine from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bryer was looking for something productive to do with her land, which gets full sun and seemed like a perfect place to garden. “We literally tore up Liberty’s entire lawn,” says Milkowski. “It felt a little crazy at first, trying to kill the grass by laying down cardboard, and then crawling around digging out clumps of sod. I don’t know what the neighbors thought at that point, but they were all willing to lend a hand or some tools, and now we have this beautiful garden and food coming out of it that’s been grown with a lot of love to help the community.  It’s been an amazing experience.” The garden project has been made possible by generous donations of time, tools, and seeds by Town and Country Federal Credit Union, Tammaro Landscaping, and Broadway Gardens. Volunteers from Learning Work’s Youth Building Alternatives have helped out on a weekly basis, weeding, turning compost, and keeping the Japanese beetle population under control.Many other community volunteers have also donated their time.