Spring spurs charitable gardening

Abbey Woodcock/Brandyann Phelps 04/06/09More articles
Photo by Brandyann Phelps Volunteers working to produce lumber for the Community Garden Project are left to right: Bo Shapley, Rick Leos, Lee Hartzog, Mike Kin, Nate Mosley and Mike Dixon.
Last autumn, several members of Saint Paulís United Methodist Church in Oneida, concerned about the strained resources of area food shelves, met to organize a local Plant-A-Row for the Hungry campaign. Started in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association of America, Plant-A-Row for the Hungry (PAR) is a nationally recognized grassroots campaign to enlist Americaís home gardeners in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Since 1995, over twelve million pounds of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables have been donated to food banks by local PAR campaigns across the nation. According to Captain Susan Ramsey of the Salvation Army-Oneida Corps, fresh produce is critical to sustaining the health of the needy families served by her organization and is greatly appreciated by those families. She is excited about the establishment of the first PAR project in Madison County and looks forward to receiving produce later this year.

The goal of the Oneida PAR campaign is to supply as much fresh produce as possible to local affiliates of the Food Bank of Central NY. To achieve this goal two strategies will be pursued in 2009. First, in partnership with St. Paulís United Methodist Church, a vegetable garden dedicated to supplying produce to the food bank will be grown on church property. Secondly, home gardeners will be asked to participate by growing an extra row of something to donate to the food bank.

Garden space at St. Paulís is available to individual volunteers and service organizations that wish to grow vegetables for the food bank. For more details, contact Fred Henson at 363-3844 or Candy Crayton at 350-3754. In order to ensure that adequate ground is plowed and prepared it is important to call by May first. A garden dedication will take place at 10 a.m. May 23 at St. Paulís United Methodist Church. Volunteers who wish to grow an extra row at home are encouraged to attend in order to receive a starter kit including information on how to donate produce, how to deduct the value of donations from income tax, and a free packet of seeds courtesy of Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Vienna Community Garden Project

At the regular meeting held on April 1 at the town hall in Vienna, Councilman Rick Leos commended all the volunteers working to make the Community Garden Project a success. He especially wanted to thank Mike Dixon for his hard work and for donating trees to the project. Also he said Bo Shapley donated his time and equipment to saw the trees into planks to be used for plant beds and a shed.

Darlene Dixon said there will be 12 beds this year, the original plan was for 30 beds, however the quantity of soil and wood required made that number prohibitive. The reason for the raised bed is the poor quality of the soil at the location chosen for of the Community Garden. Plans for next year may include property donated to the project, some of which may have better soil and the addition of more raised bed at the present location.

Dixon said ďThis is an educational tool to teach people how to grow food efficiently and organically in their own yards.Ē People that donít have a place to put a garden can come help with the community garden; the produce will be donated to the food bank. Eventually there will be classes on canning and preserving. A pictorial record of the Community Garden Project in available for viewing in the town hall.

Councilman Rick Leos proposed a lease of the property be given to the Community Garden Committee to guarantee the success of the project for years to come. Nicol Baker asked Attorney Gerald Taylor to prepare a proposal for the boardís review.

CATEGORY: Charity & Activism
EDITION: Madison Eagle

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