Gardening community shares tips and stories online

Gardeners wondering when to plant peas, where to buy heirloom tomato seeds, how to dress vegetables or what to do if their chickens start losing their feathers might find the Wallingford Community Farmers Facebook page a valuable resource. The page was started three years ago by recreational gardener Ken Lloyd when he noticed that more and more people were getting interested in gardening and other small farming activities.

There was a void for that kind of information, Lloyd said, adding that “I wanted to connect people, help others, and make people learn from each other.”

The Facebook page Lloyd started now has 2,000 followers. The private page is currently open to those living in Cheshire, Wallingford, Durham, Meriden, Middlefield, North Haven and North Branford. “You don’t have to be from Wallingford to be a member,” he said.

Members range from those new to gardening, to hobby farmers, small non-profit and smaller for-profit farms. There are also a number of members who have animals, such as chickens, goats or pigs.

Her own inspiration for gardening comes from her father, but not directly, Lloyd said. His family lived in Southbury and his father had a huge garden. His father, however, never tended the garden. This served to motivate Lloyd to do things differently with his own garden when he decided to “get back to the land”.

Lloyd has a background in broadcasting and identifies as a technical and social media person. He often broadcasts live on Facebook with visits to local farms and farmers’ markets. He posts his own gardening experiences in his two 15-by-30-foot plots in Wallingford Community Gardens, an urban space open to gardeners no matter what city they live in.

Ellen Angus, a resident of Cheshire, calls the group her “resource” whenever she has questions about gardening. “I find great advice from professionals on lawn care, protecting pollinators, discovering invasive species, and more,” she said.

Members of the page often share informative and interesting articles, she said, including historical articles about farms in Cheshire. “It’s a good local resource.”

Farms pictured on the page include Boulder Knoll Community Farm in Cheshire and Muddy Roots in Wallingford. Boulder Knoll’s Hap Jordan said he found the page “friendly and helpful to anyone with a question or in need of information or recommendations. Posts are helpful and I’ve usually had a pretty quick response from some members on any question I post. You feel like you’re part of a community,” he said.

“We love farms when they post. We support those farms,” Lloyd said. “I want to see generational farms continue. I care about protecting farms.

Lloyd is an organic farmer. His favorite seed sources are Baker Creek and Comstock-Ferre. In addition to being a micro-farmer (farming in small areas), Lloyd works with hydroponics from his home. It then moves on to planting the soil once the season changes.

Last year was not the best for its outdoor garden plots. “Too much rain and not enough sun and heat,” Lloyd said. He predicts better weather for this year’s growing season.

Also, this year, Lloyd wants to do “something different.” He grew Moroccan watermelons, which are larger than those found in the United States

He intends to breed the largest watermelon and enter it at the Durham Fair.

Those who live in an eligible area can go to Wallingford Community Farmers on Facebook to inquire about membership.

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