Doane Park Greens Up, Thanks To Volunteers - And Good Karma

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Gardening , Harwich Port

Doane Park in Harwich Port, known as Post Office Square, has a new irrigation system thanks to a group of volunteers and donors. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

HARWICH PORT A little triangular oasis of public space in Harwich Port, Doane Park is looking particularly green this week, thanks to a lot of community cooperation – and a little good karma.

The park has a new irrigation system that waters both the grass and the garden beds maintained by the Garden Club of Harwich. It replaces an old, failing system that left major dry patches in some places and leaked water in others.

The club approached the town about updating the system and offered to pay half of the cost, which would have been several thousand dollars, club President Diane DiGennaro said. The Guild of Harwich Artists, which uses the park for its weekly art shows in the summer, also agreed to contribute several hundred dollars.

Garden Club member Sally Smith said she and the other volunteers have been hoping for a new irrigation system for years, so they wouldn't have to use hoses and sprinklers to keep the area irrigated. With its dry conditions, “last summer was the crowning blow,” she said.

Back in December, Smith mentioned the situation to a fellow member of her church, Dave Gould, a landscaper who has pitched in for other town projects.

“He said, 'Coincidentally, I've just joined this new company, SiteOne Landscape Supply,'” Smith recalled. And Gould said the company believes strongly in supporting community projects.

When Gould brought the idea up at a company meeting, he had a vocal supporter: fellow employee Thomas Malone.

“It turns out that Tom was a former recipient of the Garden Club of Harwich's $3,000 scholarship when he graduated from Cape Tech,” DiGennaro said. “He decided he wanted to 'give back' because of it.” Malone donated all of the equipment for the project, and then recruited another friend, Greg Jusell of Dependable Landscape in Dennis, to help with the installation.

“It went from there,” Smith said. Jusell only charged $1,350 to install the new system, the cost of his labor. The town's highway department said to expect installation to cost around $5,000.

“It really was an enormous gift to the town,” Smith said.

The Garden Club of Harwich marks its 85th year in 2017, and helping maintain public spaces around town is just a portion of what volunteers do. Volunteers plant and maintain the large, black planters around town, an effort that's become so popular that many merchants and residents have asked to have planters near their own properties. The goal, DiGennaro said, is to provide a cohesive look to streetscapes around town.

Club members also pick up trash each year and make bouquets for the elderly and Meals on Wheels recipients, along with holiday wreaths and planters. Two years ago, the club started a mini-grant program to help local teachers with special projects that stress environmental lessons; one recent grant went to a Spanish teacher whose students planted a garden of vegetables commonly used in Spanish dishes, and the produce was used by the school cafeteria.

At Thompson's Field, a small teaching garden has been installed to help develop and test sustainable landscape plantings, including drought-tolerant and native species. That effort won the club an environmental award from the Mass. Federation of Garden Clubs. And, of course, the club continues offering scholarships and “tool-ships” for vocational students entering horticulture trades.

Learn more about the club at www.GardenClubOfHarwich.org.