As we continue with bed building for the spring, we thought you might like to know how and why we build the beds the way we do. We selected our model to take advantage of the many distinct benefits of raised beds, especially in urban settings. They can be placed anywhere, even in parking lots! This is an advantage to organizations that may not have in-ground garden space. We bring in soil and compost which reduces any concern about soil contaminants. With flexibility in height, raised bed gardens can also be much more effective for people of varying ages and abilities. Beds can be placed low to the ground for kids to work in, or they can be built higher for someone to garden from a nearby chair or stool. CGC has adopted the raised bed model to take advantage of all of these benefits.
What does CGC use to build the gardens? Well, the material that we have been using is rough cut, locally-sourced hemlock. There are many other options for building materials, but hemlock is preferred for its natural resistance to rot and its cost effectiveness. Other commonly used options are cedar (more expensive), pine (shorter life), and pressurized or treated wood. Pressurized wood is complicated because manufacturers are improving the chemicals used, however for growing food, we still stay away from it. CGC uses boards that are 2” by 8” in varying lengths. This allows for a variety of options when planning and designing your garden.
In sourcing hemlock in Southwest New Hampshire, CGC has been fortunate to work with Great Brook Forest Products in Langdon, NH (www.greatbrookforestproducts.com/). They have been an excellent partner in this endeavor and have helped to provide a cost effective solution for us. Great Brook harvests locally and sustainably in providing timber and siding materials for homes in the Northeast. We now have a nice stack of hemlock that we can cut specifically to match the space requirements of our new partner organizations. We are excited to keep building hemlock garden beds that will last for years to come!
Here are a couple of more links you may find helpful: