NORTH BENNINGTON -- The Hiland Hall Garden in North Bennington hosted their fifth annual garden party on Thursday, which included the official dedication of the Moseley Bridge.

The garden party offers a chance for friends of the garden to gather and hear about what has been going on in the garden over the past year and get a taste of what is being planned for the coming year. Live music was provided by the Hale Mountain Pickers, and food, all freshly picked by the Youth Agricultural Project, was provided to all guests.

After an hour of eating, drinking, and mingling, trustee Sandra Magsamen stepped up to the microphone to address the attendees. "This is our fifth garden party together," she said, "and I'm so glad you're all here. This garden is open to every single person, so please, come here, use it, it's for you."

Kristen Blaker then introduced the Garden's summer interns, six students ranging in grade from a rising high school freshman to a rising college freshman, who participated in a six week, two-day-a-week program. "We did a lot of weeding," laughed intern Lily Fisher when asked what the group had spent their days doing. She then added, "I think that we all had a good time. We all bonded really well."

Intern Bridgette Evans said that the garden program had even influenced her intended choice of college major. Evans, who had been considering business and music as possible majors, is now heavily considering studying agriculture.


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"It really is a great program for kids to be involved in," she said, "It makes you feel grateful for the community you live in." When Evans first heard about the intern program, she was hesititant. "When my friend said to me, ‘You have to wake up at 7 a.m. twice a week,'" she said, "I said, ‘No! It's summer!' But, I'm so glad I joined. Sometimes, when I wake up for school in the morning, I'm really tired and don't want to go. I've never felt that way about the garden."

Each of the interns received a check and a jar of pickles for their hard work. "There was a lot of growing done in the garden this summer," said Magsamen, after the interns had given their speeches, "and it wasn't just our pumpkins."

Blaker mentioned that during this upcoming school year, every class at the Village School of North Bennington will be spending time in the garden, either planting and harvesting crops or simply using the garden space to help them compose poetry. "Our goal," said Blaker, "at the garden is to expand to having more community programs."

Second grade teacher John Ulrich of the Village School was presented by the Friends of the Hiland Hall Garden with the 2014 Visionary Gardener Award. Ulrich wasn't able to attend, so the award was accepted by Marlene Driscoll. "There are so many students in the school who would never have the chance to plant things and see them grow, and I think that's something they'll always remember," she said.

The Moseley Bridge, which was designed by Thomas Moseley in the 1860's sat across the Walloomsac River for almost 100 years, until it was removed in 1958. The disassembled bridge spent many years at the Bennington Museum, before it was moved to the Bennington Landfill. In May of 2013, afraid the historic bridge, one of only a handful of surviving Moseley bridges, would be melted down for scrap, Bob Howe and Joe McGovern, trustees of the Fund for North Bennington, began reaching out to North Bennington community members in an effort to restore and re-purpose the bridge. It was installed in its current location, over a brook on the Mile-Around-Woods trail near the Park-McCullough House, earlier this year.

Rob Woolmington, president of the board of trustees for the Fund for North Bennington, thanked all those who had played a role in the bridge's restoration, and read a letter from governor Peter Shumlin commending the dedication of the residents of North Bennington to preserving their history. Robert Jackson the great-great grandson of Moseley, was invited to be in attendance, and he said a few words before the bridge's official dedication. "Thank you very much for inviting us," he said, "It's been an honor."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB