PEPPERELL -- The town's Wastewater Treatment plant might not be the most likely place to find vegetables, but they're growing so well, they have leftovers.
Cucumbers, zucchini and squash are growing like crazy, said Conservation Administrator Paula Terrasi. Her office is partnering with the DPW to sell compost made using waste from the plant and their 8-by-12 vegetable garden shows how it works.
"It works great," Terrasi said. "Using the compost is a great way to do it, the garden is just starting to bloom, and there's more to come."
Behind their offices are large drying bays of wood chips and bio-solid sludge being transformed into compost. Terrasi said she was surprised to see how well the garden is growing and expects to see peppers, tomatoes and other late-blooming veggies within the next month.
The mulch is made from sludge classified as Type I by the Department of Environmental Protection, meaning it may be used, sold or distributed for use on any site without further DEP approval. It is darker than dyed landscaping mulch, but sells for cheaper, according to Water and Sewer Superintendent Laurie Stevens.
Nutrients are also released from compost much slower than chemical fertilizers. This makes for a more aerated garden and healthier topsoil over time, Terrasi said.
Chief Operator Carmen DeFillippo and Stevens both tend to the garden, which has already yielded about 20 pounds of vegetables.
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Pepperell Aid from Community to Home is always accepting donations, but PACH Board of Directors President Ellen Castellano said that this is the perfect season for donating leftover crops.
"School is out and kids are home now, so we are always looking to stock more fresh vegetables and other foods," Castellano said.
On Saturday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., PACH will hold a drive-in food drive at the pantry, located at the Peter Fitzpatrick School. Volunteers will be unloading food and supplies from donors cars driven up.
Mulch is available at the plant, located at Lomar Park, for $10 per yard. It can be delivered in Pepperell only for $15 per yard.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant and Pepperell DPW will provide residents looking to start gardening with three free yards of mulch for free if they commit to donating half of their crops to PACH food pantry.
For details, contact Laurie Stevens at the Water Pollution Control Facility at 978-433-9859 or email@example.com.
The plant is located in Lomar Park at 47 Nashua Road. Pickups are welcome between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information or to schedule a delivery, call the Waste Water Treatment Plant at 978-433-9859.
PACH is also seeking volunteers to work as food drive coordinators, to act as liaisons with local organizations; a pantry co-coordinator, who would oversee pantry stocking, volunteers and needs; and drivers/carriers to pick up weekly donations from Hannafords and Trader Joe's.
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