Star Island is the second largest of the group of nine rocky islands called the Isles of Shoals lying nearly ten miles southeast of the mouth of the Piscataqua River, Star, owned and operated since 1915 by the nonprofit Star Island Corporation provides religious, educational, personal, and family retreat experiences for those attending weekly programs or visiting the Island.
Every job on the island—including docking boats and handling freight; cooking and serving food; maintaining the grounds, buildings, power plant, and wastewater treatment facility; and providing all hospitality services—is staffed by a “Pelican,” an affectionate term for the nearly 100 people who work on Star.
The goal of the Pelican garden is to provide the Pelican community with fresh, organic produce, help reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuels, lower island food waste through composting and recycling, give a productive and rewarding outlet for Pels to spend theit free time and to grow a tight-knit island community under the common goal of growing our own food.
Pelican Garden History:
The Pelican Garden has been an island tradition for over 10 years. Founded in 2001, it provided small amounts of fresh produce and herbs to the island staff. In the fall of 2010, the garden was expanded by about 6 times, separated into 3 tiers, and surrounded with a rock wall. From April to July of 2011, Pels continued to build the garden, adding gates and a chicken wire fence, a PVC greenhouse, a gravity-fed irrigation system and raised beds lined with found bricks and lumber. Topsoil was collected from underneath Marshman, Vaughn and Brookfield and compost was added from both on and off-island sources. In 2011, the Pelican Council began to elect a pelican gardener and in 2012, the sustainability coordinator was created.
In 2011, the garden produced nearly 500 lbs. of produce. A total of 637 hours were logged by Pels working in the garden that year, of which 387 hours were spent constructing the garden and 250 were spent doing actual gardening (planting, weeding, harvesting, etc.).
The garden produced 548 lbs. of produce in 2012, despite a slow start and heavily depleted soils. The bricks lining the raised beds in the upper tier were replaced with recycled glass wine and liquor bottles, the greenhouse was permanently attached to raised beds, and a small garden shed was built to store supplies.