FRIDAY, FEB. 3: “The broccoli, wow, it’s been amazing this month,” says Rawle Frederick in a thick Trinidadian accent as he proudly surveys his flourishing plot.
“All the green stuff has been good; the lettuce, the cabbages and the carrots too. It’s been a bit of a feast.”
The retired lecturer is now busy planting his corn, potatoes and onions for later this summer.
“The potatoes should be ready for May 24 with a bit of luck,” he says he waters his mini-crop.
The afternoon sun is setting on Paget Community Garden and a handful of gardeners are forking the turf and harvesting their dinner.
It’s quiet and peaceful, and the garden is thriving.
It has become so popular that there is even a waiting list if you want to start growing your own herbs and vegetables on one of the 24 14ft by 12ft plots.
The land just off Trimingham Hill used to be a lily field that provided flowers for the Queen.
But in 1996 the Paget Community Garden was born and it’s never looked back.
It is only about three-quarters of an acre in size, but everyone who works a plot says they can harvest enough ‘fresh veg’ to feed their families.
“And the best thing is it’s natural and tastes great,” says Mr Frederick.
“It is disappointing that it has not caught on in other parts of the island. It’s not just about growing food, it’s about exchanging ideas with the other people on the plot and there is a great sense of friendship in the garden.
“There is a lot of wasted land that is used for nothing in Bermuda and could be used as a community garden.
“I’d be happy to help out and get other gardens started if people showed an interest.”
Mr Frederick, has been president of the Paget garden since 1996, and has seen people come and go.
He said: “When the garden first started we had a lot of expats — they really had a passion for this kind of thing. We had guys from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK.
“Now we have more Bermudians and West Indians — it’s a good mix or men and women and cultures and we have a lot of fun.
“Some things have changed like the price of water. I remember in 1996 1,000 gallons was $9, now it’s $28.
“But some things are still the same like the simple enjoyment of pulling up your own food from the earth.”
The Government owns Paget Community Garden and the gardeners pay a yearly rent of $40 for half a plot or $80 for a whole plot.
Pam Pitt has had a plot for four years and maintains the produce from the garden just tastes better.
She says: “It’s very peaceful in the garden and it takes you away from the rest of the world
“My family has got some great food from our plot; herbs, hot peppers all sorts of stuff.”
Cliff Payne added: “It’s about being in touch with the environment and spending time outdoors.
“It’s also healthy and you know where your food is coming from.”
Another plot owner Julian Skyes has been coming to the garden in his spare time for 10 years.
He said: “I have always been interested in gardening. I just love the idea of planting and growing.
“It is a shame there are not more places like this in Bermuda.
“It makes sense in these economic times to provide for yourself when you can.”
Horticulturalist Peter Lee added: “You have to put the work in to get the rewards, but it is all worth it.
“For me it’s about protecting our eco-system and enhancing the environment too. Being down here makes you feel like you are doing your bit.”