April Showers Bring Community Gardens Much Needed Resources
During the 2012 Annual Spring Resource Drive, the April showers weren’t enough to drive away the volunteers. Each year, Syracuse Grows helps member community gardens to secure much needed compost, mulch, seedlings, seeds, tools, and volunteer labor. This year, gardeners, Syracuse Grows volunteers, and students from SUNY ESF endured the rain at gardens across the city and at the Southwest Community Farm to prepare the gardens for the upcoming growing season.
“It was raining off and on all day but everyone’s spirits were up and we kept laughing and working the whole time,” said Emily Lawson, an ESF student who worked at the W. Newell Street community garden.
The Resource Drive is a way to leverage resources on behalf of the community gardens. Syracuse Grows helps each garden establish a “wish list” in March including seeds and seedlings, compost, manure, mulch tools, and, volunteer labor. Syracuse Grows volunteers then work with community partners and sponsors to obtain and deliver the requested items in early spring.
The drive began in mid-April, and was highlighted by the April 21, Resource Drive delivery day. This day requires a significant number of volunteers. Volunteers at the Southwest Community Urban Farm accepted donations of used and new tools, prepared the farm for spring planting, and helped to shovel manure onto trucks for delivery. Manure was donated again this year from our friends at the NYS Dairy Association. Still more volunteers teamed up in rented and borrowed trucks to fetch truckloads of compost from the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA). Community gardeners stood ready to receive and help unload the trucks at their gardens. Garden volunteers also helped clean and prepare the gardens for spring planting.
Volunteers at the Westcott Community Garden constructed raised beds and cleared debris from existing garden beds. Volunteers at the W Newell Street garden spent the day digging beds, clearing fallen tree limbs from the garden, and planting chives. The volunteers were primarily students from ESF on their day of service. For their work, volunteers were provided snacks by Onondaga Wegmans and Green Hills Market. A lunch of lasagna, salad, and pudding also helped replenish the workers.
“It was such an awesome day, with great food, so many faces, and we really got to feel like we were making a difference in the community,” said Lawson. “And that is what it is all about.”
As the April showers subsided, the Spring Resource Drive continued into May, when over 1,000 seedlings were donated to Syracuse Grows to be distributed among the various community gardens. The seedlings were provided by Grindstone Farm, Daily Harvest Farm, and Wylie Fox Farm.
Sarah Brown, a Syracuse Grows board member, attributes the success of the Resource Drive each year to the hard work of and dedication by community members to keep the gardens flourishing.
“The Resource Drive is a great example of the importance of “community” in community gardening. Volunteers, local businesses, farms, and gardeners work hard to kick off the growing season,” said Brown.