Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

Ship Shape Farm Community

In advance of the Annual Ship Shape day in Scituate, which is also coordinated with Marshfield’s clean up day, it is a good time to wake from the long winter’s nap and assess what has been blown around.  Why do we need a Ship Shape Day anyway?  Setting aside a day for picking up trash seems to make it ok for others to let trash flow for another 364 days, since some kind, energetic, civic-minded neighbor will collect it all anyway. Why can’t folks just find a receptacle for the bottles and cans?  Why can’t boaters tuck away their trash and hold onto their mesh traps during the recreation season, and the during the year round fishing industry? Walkers, joggers and runners I know already scoop up the omniscient water bottle, plastic nip and rescue the free flying plastic bags that perch on the bare Winter branches. (I see why some towns in Massachusetts have banned bags all together considering their ambition to fly, so as we can all carry a sturdy reusable, with a green message , denim bag). But Ship Shape day is a rite of Spring passage I suppose, and a little earlier this year, coming a few weeks after the parade, which encourages the tossing of trash (disguised as candy) at bystanders, along with the acceptance of dispersing various bottles of all ages which were publicly consumed. It would be great to send a supportive message to our neighbors that certain addictions can stop being allowed. 
Shaping up a town or open space is essential for any community. One version of Ship Shape Day sees upwards of 100 people or more gathering green bags from the beautification commission in an effort to collect trash, pick up bottles strewn from the back of hard-working trucks, fighting brambles to get cans out from under the Autumn leaves and removing debris floating in from the sea and resting on the beach. Another version of Ship Shape occurs in a conservation commission area diagonal from the police station.  There, at William Teak Sherman park, named for this kind steward of the environment, I report another effort to beautify a part of the town. No plastic bags are needed and many giving hands seem to make the work lighter. At Teak, as it is called, over 30 people (give us upwards of 100 and we will feed even more!) gathered this recent sunny Sunday to cut away fallen limbs, unearth 5-year-old compost, replace a fence post, cut back briars, rake away the weeds, turn the soil, stack wood, clean the shed, bring out the table and benches and even sow a few hardy pea seeds.  Teak is a community farm garden with about thirty 10 foot by 10 foot plots, where each plotter is asked to donate a portion of their organically grown produce to the Scituate food pantry. Inexpensive, locally grown, organic produce can help those who do not make it to Whole Foods. Here, as in any backyard, someone  growing with sustainable, healthy means can have access to good food.  On this recent day, it was plot holders and friends from the Unitarian church giving of their time and standing, crouching and reaching behind a church principle of caring for the environment. Yes many of these tree huggers thought it beneficial to kindly donate at Teak, in lieu of sitting in service.
This Spring awakening, not quite an uprising, also drew folks from Hull to see the effort as they are trying to start their own community garden. I also know of folks working at “God’s Garden” in Pembroke with a similar mission of growing fresh, organic food for that town’s food pantry.  Different church, same sermon.  There will always be trash to collect, bags to reuse, bottles to recycle and compost happening so as to enrich a growing space and shape a more perfect tomato.  Giving attention to any of these tasks keeps our community together and clean, while not giving up the ship.

© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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