For two years, the Club has discussed the Farrell Estate Potting Shed and Greenhouse just behind the Library/Community Center and the potential the building would have for the Club and the community if it were cleaned out and put to good use. The Gardeners were thrilled by the idea of restoring the building to something akin to its original use. They were excited, too, by the opportunity to have their own “home” for some new activities – a place that would allow them to broaden both the number of programs mounted and the amount of community involvement in and awareness of the Club and its mission.
When the Farrell Celebration in fall of 2013 was announced, a community-wide recognition of the historical impact the Farrell Family and its donations have had on Rowayton, the time seemed right to propose at least a temporary transformation – though we are hoping for permanent status as the caretakers and users of the rooms. Certainly the fabulous opening on Farrell Day was auspicious and the classes, meetings, demonstrations, and workshops that have gone on in the months and years since have been well-received and attended!
The mission of the Potting Shed is to serve as our community’s Garden Education Center. It has served to foster a sense of environmental stewardship among our townspeople, to offer a space for dedicated garden education and nature- inspired events, and to provide a welcoming and beautiful natural space for our community.
The Potting Shed Garden Education Center at the Rowayton Community Center has created and will sustain an organic garden landscape from which it provides integrated, hands-on lessons that connect people of all ages in our community to plants, health, and our shared environment. Note that programming will be run by the volunteers within The Rowayton Gardeners membership and instruction is augmented by a variety of local garden education professionals. The design and construcNon of the new organic garden and refurbished buildings that make up the Potting Shed Garden Education Center continues to be consistent with the historic integrity of the existing Rowayton Community Center campus. The space is maintained and tended organically by the community members and the Potting Shed Committee within the Rowayton Gardeners.
Programs at the Center have benefited from collaboration with other community groups and organizations, including the Rowayton Historical Society, the Rowayton Library, area nursery schools, the Rowayton Elementary School, the Rowayton Paddle Tennis Association, local artists and local garden educational professionals, our Rowayton Civic Association, and our 6th Taxing District Commissioners. Collaboration has taken many forms since the commencement of the project several years ago, from joint programming, to funding, to combined physical effort to bring the historic greenhouse and shed back to life in a marvelous and fitting reincarnation of its past.
The majority of funding for the Potting Shed Garden Education Center has come from the fundraising success of The Rowayton Gardeners’ two major annual events (Christmas and Spring Markets). The Rowayton Civic Association awarded us a 2014 grant to aid in the construction of the educational garden patch. In addition, a variety of funds came in small amounts from our very supportive community at a variety of garden-inspired classes & events since the Potting Shed Garden Education Center was established.
Within our tenure as stewards of the Center, we have cleaned out the buildings, built and planted the organic garden (Potting Shed Patch), installed additional electrical capacity to help with lighting and power of other sorts, built a much-needed hand rail down to the wonderful storage area in the basement of the Shed, repaired the roof of the greenhouse, installed a sprinkler system for the garden and surrounds, obtained and repurposed furnishings, procured and hooked up an outdoor sink, and most recently installed two gates and a hedge to further define the area around the Shed and provide a safety barrier for our program participants.
The Rowayton Gardeners intend to maintain and care for this project for the foreseeable future. In 2016, we entered into a 4-year lease with the Taxing District that memorializes the shared responsibility for this area of buildings and grounds. As a result, the gardens, buildings and space are cared for jointly by the Potting Shed Committee within the Rowayton Gardeners and by the 6th Taxing District property managers in a classic public/private partnership. A wide variety of events for all ages are planned into the future as we continue to shape this lovely historic space. Its potential as a magnet within our community to raise awareness, demonstrate best practices and create a culture of caring for our environment is endless.
We offer great thanks to the 6th Taxing District Commissioners for their support of our efforts. Below are some photos of the preparation for the transformation, Farrell Day and Potting Shed activities the first fall of its establishment…enjoy them!