The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 5, 2010

ConsCom chooses new manager for Foss Farm gardens

The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) had a tough row to hoe when they undertook the task of choosing a new volunteer manager for the Foss Farm Community Gardens. After almost an hour of delicate negotiation with the potential candidates during their February 25 meeting, ConsCom members chose Jack O’Connor as the new garden boss to replace the venerable Bob Dennison.

There was an abundant crop of applicants.

Carol Foster of Nathan Lane has over 20 years experience at Foss Farm and was the registrar for Carlisle Dimensions. “That job was as cutthroat as the Foss Farm,” said Foster with a chuckle. She knows many people in town and is an active participant in the Farmers Market, as any sweet corn lover can attest. She would strive to assign the plots “properly,” which will take care of many of the conflicts regarding squatters and plot location. She is not afraid to make phone calls, and tell people to clean up their plots.

Ed Humm of East Street has been gardening at Foss Farm for 20 years and has been a member of the Massachusetts Horticulture Society for the same length of time. “Gardening is a passion that my wife and I have together,” said Humm. He would put a stop to abandoned plots filled with weeds. Only three plots planted winter rye and Humm believes that more can be done to improve the soil.

Jack O’Connor of Church Street has been gardening at Foss Farm for about 15 years. He knows a number of the gardeners and helps others whenever he can. “I’m pretty good at fixing things and with mechanical stuff,” said O’Connor. He has mowed the edges of the garden plots (he owns a tractor) and has been proactive in installing wells.

Two applicants were interested in the assistant manager position. Gale Constable has been at Foss for over 20 years and runs the Carlisle Farmers Market with Annette Lee, so she has experience in handling people and events. Lee Tatistcheff is new in town and “has been gardening since I could walk.” She feels that new blood would be a good thing to add to the farm. She is an engineer, “so if I can’t fix something, I can figure out how.”

“It seems clear that we have multiple well-qualified candidates for this position,” said ConsCom Chair Peter Burn. “The last thing we want to do is turn away expertise.” The dilemma among ConsCom members became how to choose only one from many. A lengthy discussion ensued, with ideas ranging from forming a committee made up of all the applicants to letting the applicants decide amongst themselves who would be manager. Finally member Tricia Smith boldly spoke up and proclaimed, “I nominate Jack O’Connor for Community Garden Manager.” A collective sigh of relief descended on the room and the commission quickly voted 6-0 (Jenifer Bush recused) to approve the appointment. O’Connor then stood up and selected Foster and Humm to be his assistant managers. Problem solved, and now all Foss Farm gardeners can get out their seed catalogs and hope for an early spring. ∆

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