George Schenk, American Flatbread founder, has created eight plots for people to garden at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield.
“This is new for us. We heard there was increased interest in gardening as a result of the health emergency and economic downturn. In economic downturns, people seek more security for their food supply and I thought people might want to have a little garden and not have land available,” Schenk said.
He has set aside some land and is dividing it up into plots that are 15 by 20 feet. People can get a full plot or half of a plot. According to Schenk, the soil is top quality and has been farmed organically by David Hartshorn since 2002.
“We’re going to provide some tilling, compost and hay and initial dressing with fertilizer,” Schenk said. Additionally, they’ll provide a common-use wheelbarrow, but people will need to bring their own tools, seeds and seedlings. The plots will be open on May 8.
So far five people have signed up. He said he’s got some additional land he can make available if the demand exceeds his first eight plots. He also said that Pat Folsom from Waitsfield United Church of Christ had offered to sponsor plots for those who couldn’t afford the $20 summer fee, although Schenk is also offering the space on a sliding scale.
Schenk said that the commitment is for one year and he’ll revisit the issue before next year.
In the meantime, he is busy working on his own gardens, the ones that supply American Flatbread, and he’s going to build a second pig pen.
American Flatbread remains open for takeout and Schenk and his wife, Mary Schenk, and their team have donated 160 flatbreads to the local food shelf and Evergreen Place along with leftover dough to make simple flatbreads.
“The more I thought about it the more I realized that Lareau Farm and American Flatbread have the ability to make food to share with others and we have a responsibility to do so,” Schenk said.
Like almost all local businesses, American Flatbread and Lareau Farm have been hard hit by COVID-19. Business has substantially contracted, he said, and he was expecting to have no weddings or inn guests this season.
“If business stays at 50 percent, we’ll be lucky. Locals and second-home owners have donated funds to help us feed people in need, and some of the money for setting up the community gardens and donations to the food shelf have come from that,” he added.