Community Gardens…Let’s Get “Back To The Earth”

The outspoken Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” and “In Defense of Food”, has often stated that eating vegetables you grow yourself is the “single greenest thing” you could do and could save you significant amounts of money too. My good friend, Rebecca, could not agree more. For quite some time, she has been trying to convince me that my horizons would be greatly broadened if I were to plant seeds and “watch things grow.” She will never accept my assertions that gardening seems like a “pain in the neck” to me and that I am perfectly happy buying my fruits and veggies from my CSA and local farmers’ markets.

Rebecca is a master gardener and is always trying to find ways to wet my appetite for gardening. She even gave me a gift of a small tomato plant which she personally planted in a large pot so that I could watch it grow. When I complained that the local outdoor cats were using the pot for undesirable things, Rebecca searched the Internet for various methods to solve the problem. You gotta’ respect anyone with that type of perseverance!

Anyway, in “what appeared to be” a further attempt to get me to grow things, Rebecca recently invited me to one of Long Island’s community gardens located at 832 Merrick Avenue in East Meadow, New York. This project is sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County which is an educational non-profit association committed to building healthy lifestyles and healthy communities by conducting educational programs that connect Cornell University resources to community needs for all people in the county. Rebecca is a Master Gardener Volunteer for the community gardens project. The CCE allows residents of the county to submit applications and payments for garden space at the community garden at the beginning of each season. Garden beds are assigned by lottery. The applications are submitted online at http://blogs.cce.cornell.edu/nassau/. Each bed measures about 5′ by 20′. This past year, the cost for the season was $75.

Community gardens provide a number of benefits to the community. Growing healthy fresh vegetables can save you money on grocery expenses (as pointed out by Michael Pollan) but gardening is not easy if you live in a city or have no backyard. Therefore, a community garden plot might be a good option for a city dweller or a senior citizen who no longer owns a home. Gardening is also a great way to get exercise. The community aspect provides social contact as well as a sense of community. Significantly, the community garden movement also goes hand in hand with efforts to encourage more local food production.

My visit with Rebecca to the CCE’s East Meadow community garden was both fun and informative. I enjoyed looking at the individual plots with their personal touches…

The “Butterfly Garden” is a work in progress shared by several members. You can’t tell from the following photos, but the garden was carved out in the shape of a huge butterfly. It was quite impressive!

Some of the growers made excellent use of bamboo…

People toiled in the hot sun to make their gardens grow…

Beautiful veggies grew…

And flowers too…

So, if you desire to garden in a community, or just need a garden plot to grow what you will, you may want to consider the CCE community garden for next spring. Although I still haven’t made a garden grow yet, my visit to the local community garden has made me see things differently. Perhaps there are some beautiful home grown veggies and flowers in my future after all!! Happy gardening!


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    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

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