Beyond Beans: A Montauk Garden Feeds Charities Too

Brian Gladstone and Greg Donohue, the garden manager, are two of the eight volunteers who keep the Montauk Community Garden running. Jane Bimson

Eight years ago, Martha Reichert decided that she wanted to reopen the garden where she had helped out as a preschooler on the grounds of St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk. She and other residents, including Greg Donohue, a landscaper who is now the garden manager, planted the Montauk Community Garden, then just 30 feet by 30 feet, and began to use the money raised to help local charities.

Now the garden has tripled in size and become a true community endeavor. Eight people volunteer frequently, weeding, planting, picking, and pruning, and both locals and visitors are more than welcome to stop by and help out.

On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the summer, the garden sells fresh organic produce grown on-site, including onions, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, squash, garlic, and herbs. Other vegetables, like corn and broccoli, come from nearby farms. Bouquets of flowers, eggs, and pickled goods are also for sale. Fresh-food enthusiasts can become members for $50 and receive all produce and flowers half off.

Since its reopening, garden volunteers have donated $27,000 (plus fresh vegetables) to Meals on Wheels in East Hampton and the Montauk Food Pantry. “It is a profound statement about what a little group of people can do,” Mr. Donohoe said.

Asked what his favorite part of the undertaking is, Mr. Donohue immediately said the volunteers, how they give him hope. He told of a man who volunteered in order to reach 100 hours of community service but enjoyed it so much he stayed on for nine more.

“When you pull a garlic plant out that’s as big as your fist, you know you did it right,” Mr. Donohue said of the satisfaction he and the volunteers get out of the project.

He urged people to pop in anytime to see the colorful plants and flowers. Just remember to close the gate!