Joe Sherburne Memorial Garden reaps bounty for seniors

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — With harvest season in full swing, volunteers are picking the last batches of fresh vegetables from the Joe Sherburne Memorial Garden in Dexter this month. “It’s gone over very well,” said Deb Burdin, one of the organizers of the community garden. “This is our first year, and we got the ball rolling. We haven’t had to say ‘no’ to anyone,” Burdin said.

    The concept of the community garden is credited to Burdin, the owner-operator of Bwarts Plants in Dexter. She started handing out flyers at her Corinna Road shop in the early summer asking for help, emphasizing that the vegetables will be planted by volunteers and provided to seniors age 65 and older free of charge. She also set up a Facebook page – Shared Bounty – to encourage more participation.
    Fred Sherburne donated the use of part of his farmland for a garden in memory of his late brother Joe, who passed away in 2008. Joe Sherburne was well known as an organic farmer and creator of the soil supplement “Compost Almost.”
    Maintaining the garden has been challenging at times, Burdin said, but she expects that things will be easier next year. “We’re looking for some help this month,” she said. “Even if you can’t bend over and pick, you can do some light duty, like bagging the veggies. Even one Saturday this month would be helpful.”
    Deb Neal of Corinna, one of the garden volunteers, said that it’s been a positive experience for the workers and the seniors they help. “The wet spring really slowed things down. The weeds grew faster than the vegetables during the first month,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s really produced well. We also have a nice farm pond on the property which will be handy next year.”
    Burdin said that the garden still has free corn, carrots, cabbage, Swiss chard, onions, beets and more for senior citizens. “We have an 82-year-old lady volunteer who delivers to 15 people who can’t get out on their own,” Burdin said. “Imagine what it’s like to be elderly and not be able to afford fresh vegetables.”
    Plans for a post-harvest dinner for the workers are under way and the date and location will be announced soon.
    For more information, contact Burdin at 924-3010 or

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