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 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.

 

 

Midland Ave Tool Lending ShedSyracuse Grows Lends a Hand to Community Gardeners

Syracuse Grows is excited to unveil its new Community Garden Lending Library Tool Shed. The shed, located at the Midland Avenue Community Garden, will be stocked with commonly used gardening tools including hoes, shovels, rakes, and a rototiller. The tools will be made available to Syracuse Grows member gardens on a first come, first serve basis. The shed was made possible by grants from the Future Fund of CNY and the Gifford Foundation

For Jonnell Robinson, the Chair of Syracuse Grows, the lending library helps to strengthen the network of community gardens in Syracuse. Community gardeners can use the lending library to borrow tools instead of purchasing their own supplies. “The lending library is a way for Syracuse Grows to continue its support of community gardens.” said Robinson. “Instead of individual gardens raising money for tools that they need to use only once or twice a year, the lending library’s tools can be borrowed at little or no cost.”

The shed was built by Northside Urban Partnership’s Green Train, a local workforce development program that helps un- and under-employed community members develop skills in green construction. Andy Erickson, the Green Train instructor, designed and built the shed with the help of two of the program’s recent graduates.

Erickson’s green design incorporates both used and new materials. The windows, door, hardware, and lumber are used materials from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Another green feature of the shed is its ability to capture rainwater for watering the garden. “The goal was to create a structure that could harness rainfall while having a non-invasive effect on the environment,” said Erickson. The corrugated metal roof directs rainwater flow into rain barrels. The oversized roof also increases the amount of rain that can be captured and channeled into the rain barrels, explained Erickson. This provides the garden with an onsite source of water, which was previously lacking.

Aggie Lane, the Midland Avenue showed off the shed at her annual community garden brunch in May. The shed is a great new addition to the garden, which has been a source of fresh produce, recreation and leisure to neighbors for over 13 years.  The gardeners grow garlic, strawberries, potatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash, red raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, eggplant, herbs and onions.

“We hope the shed will continue to build a collaborative spirit among Syracuse’s community gardeners,” said Robinson.

 

 

Syracuse Grows 2011 Annual Report

SG Annual Report Cover ImageThe accomplishments of Syracuse Grows in 2011 are the result of a collective effort not only of the members of the organization, but also of numerous volunteers, neighborhood groups, community organizations, the City of Syracuse, and local businesses and individuals. Syracuse Grows facilitates these collective efforts to help provide the resources, education programs, and coordination necessary for creating and sustaining community gardens and urban agriculture throughout the city. In turn, these places and programs contribute to larger goals of community development, environmental sustainability, and increased access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate produce.

 

 

Annual Meeting February 28th, 2012 (Save the Date!) [updated]

Save the date and join Syracuse Grows gardeners, friends, supporters, volunteers and advisory team members at our 2012 Annual Meeting.

Look forward to updates on 2011 achievements and plans for 2012. This years is shaping up to be a year of capacity building for SG gardens and organization.

 

Date: February 28th, 2012
Time: 6:30pm 
Location: Bob Cecile Center, 176 W. Seneca Turnpike

We look forward to seeing you!

Syracuse Grows

 

 
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