In a 2010 article from North Country Public Radio on Zenda Farm’s community garden, the benefits of such gardens is described perfectly: “The Community Garden Initiative brings neighbors together and empowers them to supplement their food supply by growing healthy and nutritious food themselves. Community gardening stimulates social interaction, encourages self-reliance, truly beautifies neighborhoods and produces nutritious foods, while reducing family food budgets. Also, the community is connected to the source from which their food originates, fostering a sense of trust and collaboration among the participating residents.”
A more recent article from the Trust for Public Land, has farmer Jen Smith elaborating: “It’s so important that people have the option to get food locally,” says Jen. “One can see, from looking at the current food system, that it’s just not sustainable to truck and transport food. There’s real strength in having local agriculture in cities and towns…We want to offer super-fresh local produce, but also a place to see your neighbors, a place for kids to camp, run through a field, and watch a carrot come out of the ground—places like this are hard to come by these days.”
Naturally, Zenda (pictured above) is the first community garden I’ll mention, the farm being a TILT preserve, but other established, and fledgling, community gardens are available in the North Country as well:
In Alex Bay, the Macsherry Library has their own community garden – call for more info. And I just recently noticed the “Shangri-la Community Garden” that popped up on Church St next to the laundromat by the light (look for the free-standing doors).
In Redwood, a recent partnership between the Neighborhood Association & Hearts for Youth built a small greenhouse downtown, with proposed classes and all extra food going to the local food pantry.
Even Ogdensburg recently opened a community garden at the Fort La Presentation property.
Now a glaring omission here is Watertown – besides an one-off Boy Scout project back in ’09, Watertown doesn’t seem to have an active community garden – and that’s where it would be needed the most!
Interested in starting a community garden in your neighborhood? First, do some research online and go visit one of the above to get some ideas – the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County will be offering its Master Gardening Program at Zenda Farm, with classes open to the public. Call the Thousand Islands Land Trust for more information (686-5345), and most importantly, keep it local!