For The Good, Inc. Community Gardens

  (Utica, New York)
Building Community As We Grow Good Food!
[ Member listing ]

Jay Street Garden Celebration

It was a hard sell for Theresa Mott’s BOCES GED class on Good Friday when she first brought them to the Jay Street Garden. The day was cold and dreary and the plot looked like the neglected place it was. There were plenty of weeds and dead leavings from the year before in every bed. Sticks and twine leaning and twisted, beds were trash strewn and half empty of soil. The place was a disaster.
But Theresa knew that beyond the mortal view there was growth to come. Growth in the soon to be cleared and tended beds and growth in her students for the transformation they would soon be a part of.
That transformation was realized 10 weeks later when those same students, who had come complaining and foot dragging, were in the garden to celebrate and bless the work they had done with a picnic. Work done, not only in the Jay Street Community Garden but, in the classroom as well. There were graduates among the picnickers.
These new Urban Gardeners are also DSS recipients who are mandated to work in exchange for their monthly allotment. What they had begun to receive in exchange for their work in the garden was the beginning of a season’s bounty of fresh organic produce. It has come in the form of pounds of musculin mix lettuce, mustard greens, radishes and Swiss chard.
The first ‘fruits’ were actually tender dandelion greens for salad or cooking and dandelion roots for tea. Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, CEO of For The Good, Inc. is also the Garden Manager this year and is also an herbalist. She explained to the students in the Spring that dandelion is an edible herb and that the root in particular is beneficial. Many of the student took home pounds of the early tender greens prior to budding.
Harris-Lockwood also brought the healing herb comfrey to the garden for transplanting and explained that Native Americans refer to it as ‘bone-knit.’ It came in handy when one of the gardeners was stung by a bee and the herb immediately eased the pain.
The students are being trained in intensive organic gardening techniques. They are learning intensive planting, succession planting and companion planting. Over the course of the summer they will be introduced to non-toxic pest control applications and how to harvest crops so that plants, like lettuce and kale continue continue to produce throughout the season.
Another major player of the garden scene has been Lead Gardener, Larry Drake of Feed Our Vets. Larry is at the Garden Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. He keeps the lawns mowed, the weeds wacked, tends to planting and moves fill. The day of the picnic Larry was the man on the grill, keeping hotdogs and hamburgers coming.
Most everyone brought something for the pot luck portion of the meal, including the Hamilton College gardeners who came.
They are lead by Hillary Joy Pitoniak who is the Greenhouse/Invertebrate Care Technician & Supervisor of the Hamilton College Community Farm. The Hamilton gardeners have brought several varieties of seedlings to Utica’s Community Gardens and have been an inspiration to the fledgling Jay Street gardeners. Their ease and expertise in the garden provided a sense of greater esteem to those who had previously resented getting their hands dirty. Working alongside the bright and capable college students added a new dimension to what had been seen as drudgery.
Fr. John Ngyuen from Old Historic St. John’s, came to the event to bless the garden and those who planted it, reading from scripture and sprinkling holy water on beds as many of the group walked along behind him.
A number of elected officials attended the gathering including Senator Joe Griffo, John Stemen, representing Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, County Legislator Rose Ann Convertino and Councilman Frank Vescera.
Mayor Rob Palmieri showed up later in the afternoon with his Chief of Staff, Jim Murphy. Other than sampling hot dogs, hamburgers and other fare, the Mayor had the chance to toss the Frisbee with some of the participants.
Unable to attend the picnic, Representative Richard Hanna instead sent individual certificates of recognition to all of the new Urban Gardeners. This was a cherished acknowledgement for some who have never been recognized for a job well done. The crops coming forth are certainly gratification and will continue to be during the course of the season.
When Senator Joe Griffo asked one of the Gardeners, “What was the best part of all of the work?”
She answered, “Seeing the things grow.”
What she didn’t recognize was how much she and her other classmates had grown as well.
 
 

Planting Begins at Jay Street Garden

Larry Drake of Feed Our Vets and Garden Manager have begun planting at Jay Street Garden. Two beds so far. Several chard varieties in one bed and two rows of Danver half longs, two rows of mesculin mix and a section of radishes in another. The DSS group was in again this week weeding beds and will be back next week. Larry fills beds, rakes them out and Garden Manager plants.

Clinton Tractor serviced the weed wackers and they are both running well now. One for each garden. I stopped by Clinton Agway this morning. There was a $5 bill in our donation pot. I used it to buy seeds. The mesculin mix, kale, black seeded Simpson and summertime lettuce. Hopefully we can get some lettuce in at Linwood before the rain comes. Hilde, Lead Gardener at Linwood will probably handle that on the weekend.
 
 

Utica Community Gardens Update 2012

Utica Community Gardens 2012 Update

The DSS crew did a good job in their first foray into the Jay Street Garden. Most had little or no garden experience and their teacher was doubtful that they would have any enthusiasm. But they heard the idea that they would have free food that they otherwise could not afford at the grocery store and they began to show a spark of interest.

 I then showed them how easily the dandelion greens and roots were to dig out of the beds. They were surprised. Everybody knows how impossible dandelions are to pull up, but not in that fabulous soil. I then explained how healthful they are to eat as greens and as tea. One of the new gardeners added that her mother always ate the greens and made tea from the roots for her arthritis and everyone was suddenly shifted. I pulled out bags from the shed to put their greens in and explained how to prepare the tea and the greens. They spent several hours there and are excited about being able to improve their families’ diets for no cost. This is what the Community Gardens are all about!

Linwood Place Garden - Hilde Holds it Down

Farmer Nate Sterling and Lead Gardener Hilde Lowenstein have been hard at work in the 1st of the Gardens at Linwood Place. Much has been planted and most survived the onslaught of cold weather after the heat of mid-March. Plans are underway to replace the water tank on a new,  improved and higher mound so that when the season really takes off our gravity feed water supply will be more effective.

Noyes Street Garden - Veterans Garden

Talks are underway to designate the largest Community Garden to the use of Veterans and their families. Mark Smith of Feed Our Vets recently toured the grounds and agreed that it would be ideal to invite Vets to participate and improve their diets. Noyes Street Garden will shrink due to an adjoining neighbor purchasing several lots. Feed Our Vets will assist the process by organizing work crews to remove, replace and rebuild the beds a bit more to the east before fencing is built. Stay tuned.

 
 

Utica Community Gardens 2012 Update

Utica Community Gardens 2012 Update

The DSS crew did a good job in their first foray into the Jay Street Garden. Most had little or no garden experience and their teacher was doubtful that they would have any enthusiasm. But they heard the idea that they would have free food that they otherwise could not afford at the grocery store and they began to show a spark of interest.

 I then showed them how easily the dandelion greens and roots were to dig out of the beds. They were surprised. Everybody knows how impossible dandelions are to pull up, but not in that fabulous soil. I then explained how healthful they are to eat as greens and as tea. One of the new gardeners added that her mother always ate the greens and made tea from the roots for her arthritis and everyone was suddenly shifted. I pulled out bags from the shed to put their greens in and explained how to prepare the tea and the greens. They spent several hours there and are excited about being able to improve their families’ diets for no cost. This is what the Community Gardens are all about!

Linwood Place Garden - Hilde Holds it Down

Farmer Nate Sterling and Lead Gardener Hilde Lowenstein have been hard at work in the 1st of the Gardens at Linwood Place. Much has been planted and most survived the onslaught of cold weather after the heat of mid-March. Plans are underway to replace the water tank on a new,  improved and higher mound so that when the season really takes off our gravity feed water supply will be more effective.

Noyes Street Garden - Veterans Garden

Talks are underway to designate the largest Community Garden to the use of Veterans and their families. Mark Smith of Feed Our Vets recently toured the grounds and agreed that it would be ideal to invite Vets to participate and improve their diets. Noyes Street Garden will shrink due to an adjoining neighbor purchasing several lots. Feed Our Vets will assist the process by organizing work crews to remove, replace and rebuild the beds a bit more to the east before fencing is built. Stay tuned.

  [Read More]
 
 
RSS feed for For The Good, Inc. Community Gardens blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader

Calendar


Search


Navigation


Topics


Feeds


BlogRoll