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Community garden coming to downtown Riverhead

Hoping to bring more activity to the downtown Riverhead business district, River and Roots, a not-for-profit local group, will start a community garden this spring on the bank of the Peconic River.

"I heard they had these long ago," said Amy Davidson, a group organizer. "They had victory gardens on Ostrander Avenue."

Victory gardens were patriotic gardens planted during World War II to provide fruits and vegetables at a time of food rationing.

The Riverhead Town Board voted Tuesday night to let Supervisor Sean Walter sign a lease for the town-owned land. It will be divided into 36 individual 4-by-10-foot plots, and Davidson said they would be leased to town residents for about $25 for the season, although that price is not final.

"We want to see more people walking around downtown Riverhead," she said.

Before the garden plots are leased, the soil will be tested and an irrigation system will be put in. River and Roots will also be writing up regulations for the garden's use, including a provision that each gardener volunteer a few hours to help with general upkeep.

Priority for leasing the plots will go to downtown Riverhead residents, then to town residents. The group defines downtown Riverhead as the area between the Peconic River and Route 58, running from Kroemer Avenue in the west to where Route 25 and West Main Street meet on the district's east side.

While a 4-by-10-foot plot may not seem big - especially on the East End, where farmers grow crops over thousands of acres - Davidson said people can get a good-sized harvest, especially if they use urban gardening principles and put in multiple plantings.

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