Rita Foster Donates Garden Space To Montauk Community

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Rita Foster’s 18-acre farm in Montauk, known as Rita’s Stable, not only plays host to horses, ponies, sheep and goats, but also to a garden that she needs help cultivating.Among rising costs, Ms. Foster has been struggling in the last few years to keep the farm and keep up her garden, so she is asking for a hand in raising vegetables. She said she has always wanted to keep up a garden, but as she is getting older, it is harder to do.

To that end, Susan Vitale, a Montauk Community Garden volunteer, has begun growing vegetables in the 30-foot-by-40-foot garden. Another Montauk resident, Andrea Kearns, is also tending a garden there. Ms. Foster is looking for more people to use her garden, at no cost.

The hope is to give Ms. Foster a helping hand by gardening for her, in addition to raising awareness of the farm and teaching people about the importance of locally grown food, according to Ms. Vitale. While the details are still being worked out, Ms. Vitale and Ms. Foster hope to eventually let students, Scouts and others plant their own vegetables on Ms. Foster’s land for free.

Ms. Vitale currently visits Montauk School kindergartners and first-graders each week to teach them about nature and help them plant their own garden in the school’s greenhouse.

“This would be an edible offshoot of a different site,” Ms. Vitale said last Friday about Ms. Foster’s garden. “Anything off the grid and sustainable is good for Montauk,” she said of organic gardening.

Greg Donohue, who leads the Montauk Community Garden on the St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church grounds in downtown Montauk, said that while he won’t be managing the garden at Rita’s, Ms. Vitale will, and that he supports the effort. “The taste of a potato dug up in the morning and put on the table for dinner is different from any potato you’ve ever had in your life,” he said. “You don’t need any butter on it or anything. The flavor comes right at you. Kids have to know where food comes from instead of taking the plastic off and putting it in the cart.”

Each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the community garden is tended by those who have plots there, and fresh, organic vegetables and flowers are sold by the bunch by the Montauk Community Garden folks, raising money for the Montauk Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels.

So far, Ms. Vitale has planted strawberries, Brussels sprouts, beans, peas, eggplant, cucumber and tomatoes at Ms. Foster’s farm.

If things go as planned, whatever Ms. Foster doesn’t take from her garden will be sold at the Montauk Community Garden each Saturday.

Rita’s Stable has been around since the late 1970s, when Ms. Foster opened the property, realizing a dream she has had since she was a child, she said.

For more information about the garden at Rita’s Stable, or to reserve a plot, call Ms. Foster at (631) 668-5453, or Ms. Vitale at (631) 379-2671.

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