Shirl Mendonca: Embracing gardening as a community |

Shirl Mendonca: Embracing gardening as a community

Lake Wildwood residents love to get outdoors and garden, even if only on a small scale. It is especially rewarding when you overcome the challenges of the deer, turkeys, squirrels and the LWW “rules” which restrict fenced enclosures to 1,000 square feet an no more than 5 feet high. When you manage to outsmart the critters and bring in a bouquet of home-grown roses or the first organic zucchini and arugula of the summer, you feel like you have really accomplished something.

While Lake Wildwood is a natural, woodsy environment, there are lots of homeowners who have small flower gardens and a growing number of residents who have food gardens. Recently, a number of residents have mentioned to me the benefits of growing some of their own vegetables.

Whether you believe in peak oil and global warming or not, you definitely know that food prices have risen sharply just by looking at your grocery bill. And you know that the cost of driving to the store to shop is also increasing. What we don’t know is how long these price increases will continue or how far up they will go.

With all the uncertainty, we also have choices. We can continue to pay to drive to the store for food that traveled 1,500 miles to get to us or we can grow some of it in our own backyards.

Lake Wildwood is one of the best examples of community that I have ever seen. Everyone pitches in to help one another. Taking that a step further, several residents have mentioned that it would be nice if we could have a gardening group just for food so we can help each other learn the best ways to honor the critters, respect the governing documents of LWW and, at the same time, become more self-sustainable. We could share our ideas and our bounty and maybe even supply fresh vegetables to Pierre at the clubhouse restaurant one night a week to create a neighborhood meal “event.”

LWW is laid out in such a way that there is a real advantage to fenceless yards backing up to one another. In my neighborhood, there are many houses around a large circle with all the backyards in the middle of the circle; as we visit with each other while tending gardens, we build friendships, keep an eye out for one another and offer help. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Or maybe it is time to revisit the concept of victory gardens where several neighbors share a garden. Another idea is to have an LWW community garden; this is a very large fenced garden with many smaller “plots” inside. LWW could provide a sunny spot, the structure and water in exchange for nominal plot rent. If any of these ideas are of interest to you, please give me a call and I can be the “connect” point.

Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood? Contact Shirl Mendonca online at

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