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An Abundance of Onions: Growing Wethersfield Red Onions at the Museum

At woods edge of the Connecticut Museum’s sprawling backyard are six community garden plots thriving in their second season. KNOX, a group that supports urban farming and horticulture opportunities in Greater Hartford, constructed the raised beds. The Museum provides the land and water. Currently two gardeners are using the space. One of them, Andrew May, is responsible for growing close to 200 pounds of Red Wethersfield onions. 

What does one do with that many onions? This heritage crop, grown on site and in a second KNOX community garden in Hartford’s Pope Park, will be donated to Hands on Hartford, the Wethersfield food pantry, and elsewhere in Greater Hartford. Although he says he is not a master gardener, Andrew participated in the multiyear Urban Farming class through KNOX during the pandemic, honing his farming skills and learning how to create a business plan. He sees heirloom plants as a way to diversify the food supply, but also focuses on plants that share a story about our history. 

Having harvested his onion crop, he will be giving the soil reprieve by next growing marigolds and poppies. The marigolds are intended for use on ofrendas at the Connecticut Museum’s Día de  Muertos (Day of The Dead) event on October 28th. The poppies are marked for Veterans Day. 

Prior to the community garden, the Connecticut Museum created a two-bed Victory Garden on the lawn’s west side. After several successful years of vegetables and flowers, the beds earned their retirement. The pollinator plants were relocated elsewhere on the Museum’s property, and judging by the robust onion crop, continue to serve their purpose.

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