– Elizabeth Harleman, Chair
For two years, the Gardeners discussed the potential of cleaning out the Farrell Estate Potting Shed and Greenhouse just behind the Library/Community Center for the club and the town. The Gardeners were thrilled by the idea of restoring the building to something akin to its original use. The group was also by the opportunity to have their own “home” for activities – a place that would allow them to broaden both the number of programs and community involvement.
When the Farrell Celebration in fall of 2013 was announced, a 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. 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 as well as providing welcoming and beautiful natural space for our community. 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: Historic Rowayton, 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, along with 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). Plus the Rowayton Civic Association awarded a grant in 2014 to aid in the construction of the educational garden patch. In addition, there have been donations of all sizes from Rowayton’s very supportive community at many garden-inspired classes and events since the Potting Shed Garden Education Center was established.
Within the Gardeners’ tenure as stewards of the Center, members have cleaned out the buildings, built and planted the organic garden (Potting Shed Patch). They have also added additional electrical capacity, built a much-needed hand rail down to the basement storage area of the Shed, and repaired the roof of the greenhouse. There is now a sprinkler system for the garden and surrounds, repurposed furnishings, procured and an outdoor sink. Most recently, the Gardeners installed two gates and a hedge to further define the area around the Shed, while providing a safety barrier for our program participants.
The 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 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 the Gardeners 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. The club offer great thanks to the 6th Taxing District Commissioners for their support of our efforts.
Please contact Elizabeth Hareleman for more information.