Brenda Nelson, an avid gardener, discovered a problem when she moved into her new home in Bath. “My little house had too tiny of a yard,” Nelson said.

Like many Bath residents, Nelson lives in a densely-populated neighborhood Her little home is sandwiched so close to neighboring houses that when friends phone her, they can hear the conversation of roofers next door. Nelson realized she had to find another plot to garden, or else let her green thumb go fallow.

Luckily, Peter Bingham, Bath’s Assistant Parks and Recreation director, was looking for a volunteer to help resurrect the city’s community garden. The garden thrived until a few years ago, when the previous volunteer coordinator fell ill, said Bingham. After that, it went to seed.

“It just kind of faded away,” Bingham said.

Luckily, Nelson’s and Bingham’s paths crossed at a booth during Bath’s annual citizen involvement day. Judging from the seeds planted at the garden this last month, it seems likely their collaboration will bear fruit — or at least, zucchini.

The community garden is a small green space in Bath’s urban landscape, roughly measuring 100 ft. by 1,000 feet. Each gardener will get a 15 ft by 20 ft plot to grow whatever they wish. There are plots set aside for children and to grow vegetables for the local food pantry. As of late May, Nelson said there was still plenty of space available.

The garden is completely organic. Volunteers and city workers till the soil, then apply hay to serve as both weed control and mulch. At the end of the year, the hay will be tilled under to provide soil nutrients.

Nelson said the garden will help Bath residents stay connected with nature and their community at the same time.

“Plus, you save a bunch of bucks,” Nelson said.

Bingham said it’s important to offer Bath residents with no yard of their own the opportunity for green space. The garden was a natural extension of the Parks and Recreation Department’s mission. Not only do participants exercise while working the garden, they also get the added health benefits of good, fresh food from the harvest, he said.

“Gardening is healthy all around,” Bingham said.

But maintaining the garden won’t be without difficulties, Nelson and Bingham agree. One of the major hurdles with the last community gardening effort was water. Before, the fire department left a large water tank nearby, but mischief-makers often drained the tank before gardeners could use it.

Garden coordinators and city officials are still trying to work out the best watering strategy this time around, and there’s some disagreement over which way to go. Nelson said the water department planned to extend a water line over-ground, but Bingham said the city would probably instead provide a movable water tank.

Despite the garden’s urban setting, planners also must contend with critters. In the past, garden produce was munched by raccoons, mice and groundhogs. None of this was a surprise to Nelson, who has experienced urban fauna before.

“In my last house, I had raccoons coming in the cat door,” she said.

Volunteers and city workers plan to deepen an existing fence, dig a trench, and possibly add low-voltage electrical fencing. Out of Native American tradition, they also will try a friendly concession to non-human visitors: a small garden planted outside the fencing that hopefully will serve both as offering and deterrent.

Bath gardeners like Andrew Thorton are eagerly looking forward to working their plots this summer. Thorton and his five-year old friend Gabriel Lawrence usually garden a small plot outside their apartment building, but organic gardeners typically rotate crops to maintain soil health and the two don’t have enough space to do that. Instead, they’ll let the plot rest for the year and work in the community garden.

Thorton loves the idea of the children’s garden plots. He described the wonderful chaos of letting children have their own gardening space:

“Here’s a hundred different types of seeds, grow what you want,” Thorton said.

He also loves how gardening connects children with their food.

“You don’t just go to the supermarket and five seconds later you have a green pepper,” he said.

Even though his apartment plot will be ready for planting next year, Thorton said he still plans to work in the community garden, too.

For her part, Nelson will be just as happy when the garden’s up and running. Because it had to be started from scratch this year, she’s spent more time on the phone than tilling the earth, including putting together a complicated seed order.

“That was like doing my income tax,” she said.

To reserve a garden plot or for more information, contact Brenda Nelson at 207-386-5056.