Community Gardens

“A single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.”

cgpic1A simple definition, but a community garden is so much more than just a piece of land. Community gardens bring people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities together to establish something beautiful. Each individual plays a role in making the garden successful.  Not only do gardens increase access to fresh food and nature, they also beautify neighborhoods, raise property value, and reduce neighborhood crime. Community gardens provide us with the opportunity to learn, grow, and live together.

Just some of the many benefits of a community garden include:

  • Improves the quality of life for people involved with the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Encourages social interaction between community members
  • Promotes independence and satisfaction with oneself
  • Beautifies neighborhoods
  • Increases property values
  • Produces nutritious food and supports healthy eating behaviors
  • Reduces family food budgets
  • Conserves resources and helps maintain a friendly eco-system
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces crime
  • Preserves green space and utilizes land that would otherwise go wasted
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

As part of our food equity program, Sustainable Long Island has been working more and more on various community garden projects over the past year. Please read on below for details on some of the most exciting initiatives:

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BUILD: On June 3, 2016 Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the Cedarmore Corporation, held a Community Garden Expansion at the Freeport Community Garden. This build was made possible by a generous grant awarded to Sustainable Long Island from Bank of America. Five beds (8’ x 4’) were added and constructed on-site the day of the build. A strong group of volunteers from the local BJ’s came out to support the build. In addition, BJ’s donated gloves, soil, and water. The pre-existing beds were weeded, cleaned up, and replenished with new soil. Currently a gardening workshop is in the process of being arranged at the garden.

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BUILD: In May 2016, thanks to funding from the ERM Group Foundation, the Town of North Hempstead and Sustainable Long Island held a Community Garden Expansion at the Yes We Can Center. Together with a volunteer base of local youth and seniors, who frequent the community center and regularly work in the garden, 5 beds were constructed from 3 premade kits, 4’ x 4’; 2 ADA raised beds, 4’ x 4’ and 4 ft. high.  After constructing the beds, filling them with soil, and freshening up the pre-existing beds, a garden workshop was given to demonstrate “square foot” gardening and give a refresher on planting.  The group then planted the garden for the season.

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BUILD: In August 2015, the Town of North Hempstead and Sustainable Long Island held a community garden build and planting workshop at the “Yes We Can” Community Center. Youth from the community center and seniors from Magnolia Gardens constructed five cedar raised garden beds – filling them with soil and planting cold tolerant crops, such as romaine, cilantro, napa cabbage, baby bok choy, broccoli, and beets. Five hoop houses were also constructed to help extend the growing season. The garden was funded in part by Bank of America and New York Community Bank Foundation. Plants were donated from Sang Lee Farms in Peconic. Top soil was donated from the Home Depot in Westbury and Atlantic Nursery in Freeport. Among the nearly 40 attendees were Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Parks Commissioner Jill Weber, and Councilwoman Viviana Russel.

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BUILD: In June 2015, Sustainable Long Island worked with community partner Teatro Yerbruja to build a community garden outside of their newly renovated Downtown Performing Arts Center in Central Islip.

Sustainable Long Island, Teatro Yerbabruja staff, members of the community, and a host of volunteers from ERM Group Foundation and Target built six 4’x4′ raised garden beds, two of which are considered high beds to allow for easier access for seniors and physically disabled persons. The project aims to empower local youth and residents and will be run by Teatro Yerbabruja, who is committed to ensuring maintenance and upkeep of the garden.

INSTALL: In June 2014, Sustainable Long Island and Roosevelt Middle School facilitated a popup Community Garden installation outside the Middle School (335 East Clinton Ave). Sustainable Long Island staffers and Roosevelt physical education teacher Leslie Pieters constructed two beds and mixed compost, vermiculite, and peat moss in preparation for planting initiatives. The garden is planned to be used as part of an ag-robics program, a physical education project combining aerobics and agriculture designed to show the healthy benefits of gardening! In June 2015, we added six more garden beds to the site!

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BUILD: In June 2014, Sustainable Long Island and the City of Long Beach brought together over 80 volunteers for a Community Garden Build at the corner of Riverside Boulevard and East Pine in Long Beach, adjacent to Sherman Brown Park. Volunteers from CitiGroup partaking in Citi’s Global Community Day joined community members and additional volunteers from Long Island Volunteer City and Aon Group to construct 15 raised garden beds with hoop houses at the site, while also mixing compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. Volunteers also constructed two storage sheds for long term storage. Thanks to all who attended and volunteered! Special thanks to Kevin Horsham and Eagle Scaffolding for providing power tools and equipment for the build!

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BUILD: In May of 2014 Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the Cedarmore Corporation, The Long Island Volunteer Center, LI Green Market, and BJ’s Wholesale Club, brought together over 20 volunteers to Zion Cathedral in Freeport to add to an existing community garden for residents of the Village of Freeport.

Thanks to funding from Bank of America, volunteers prepared the site and constructed seven additional garden beds, while also planting summer crops, including tomatoes and cabbage.

Community gardens bring people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities together to establish something beautiful. Each individual plays a role in making the garden successful.  Not only do gardens increase access to fresh food and nature, they also beautify neighborhoods, raise property value, and reduce neighborhood crime. Community gardens provide us with the opportunity to learn, grow, and live together.

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WEBSITE: In partnership with Stony Brook University Family Medicine’s Community Roots Project and the Suffolk County Food Policy Council, Sustainable Long Island and Stony Brook University Family Medicine’s Dietetic Interns have developed a Long Island Community Gardens website, which will serve as an online-hub focused upon starting, maintaining, and successfully running a local community garden. Live at www.longislandcommunitygardens.org, the comprehensive website will also serve as an educational resource on the benefits, concerns, types, and locations of community gardens across Long Island.

The website was implemented after the three collaborating organizations (Sustainable Long Island, Stony Brook University Community Roots Project, and the Suffolk County Food Policy Council) identified the need for online resources dedicated strictly to local Community Gardens. After research and the actual building of two community gardens in Long Beach and Freeport, it became a top priority to develop a central hub where streamlined information on community gardens was made readily available. Four Dietetic interns worked in Sustainable Long Island’s offices over the course of four months to develop the website. Now completed, additional interns will continue to update and maintain the website, blog, and email inbox.

The Long Island Community Gardens website supports the missions and goals of its three collaborating organizations. By encouraging the development of self-sustaining community gardens, the website aims to increase public access to healthy food, promote local and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, and improve overall public health. The website was also made possible in part by a Bank of America grant awarded to Sustainable Long Island.

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BUILD: In Fall 2013, Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the Cedarmore Corporation, The Long Island Volunteer Center, and The Freeport Trailer, brought together over 30 volunteers to Zion Cathedral in Freeport last week to construct a community garden for residents of the Village of Freeport. Additional partners for this project included LI Green Market, Farmers & Friends, Inc., Lowe’s Home Improvement, and students and instructors from Stony Brook University, Briarcliffe College, and Hofstra University.

Thanks to funding from Bank of America and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, volunteers prepared the site and constructed eight garden beds and two compost bins. During the winter, volunteers and local residents will help to fill the compost bins so that they can reuse the compost in the spring, when Sustainable Long Island and Farmers and Friends, Inc. will return to demonstrate how to plant various seeds and seedlings in 2014.

Many residents and volunteers are looking forward to growing their own foods next year. After the build, some residents showed interest in having other community gardens built throughout Freeport.

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BUILD: Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the City of Long Beach and The Long Island Volunteer Center, brought together over 50 volunteers at Long Beach’s Magnolia Senior Center on July 30, 2013 to construct a community garden for the seniors and children at the Center in Long Beach. Additional partners for this project included LI Green Market, Altria Partnership, Long Beach Latino Civic Association, and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

Thanks to funding from Bank of America and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, volunteers prepared the site, constructed six garden beds for seniors and an additional garden bed for the Center’s daycare program. By the end of the day-long event the volunteers were able to plant seeds, seedlings, and other plant material, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, peas, watermelon, and zucchini.

Many residents and volunteers who participated expressed interest in replicating the process in their own neighborhoods. Additional community gardens are being planned through Sustainable Long Island in Long Beach and other communities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.