We’ve shared information on the American Community Garden Association in the past, noting that the growing movement of community gardens throughout North America is a ray of hope in a frenetic world. This green movement offers city and town dwelling people a way to reconnect with nature in a fruitful way.
As the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been journeying through during the pandemic gets brighter, it’s a perfect moment for folks without access to a backyard garden to look into a plot in a community garden. The American Community Garden Association’s website has an easy to use Find-A-Garden map to search for the location of a community garden by entering a zipcode. No surprise that its map discloses the extraordinary Capital Roots based in Troy (Rensselaer County), New York.
Capital Roots in its Spring 2021 newsletter spotlights its recent successes, accomplished despite the many challenges of the corona virus pandemic. The non-profit organization deserves multiple hurrahs for its endeavors.
The latest newsletter from Capital Roots spotlights: (1) 155,994 pounds of mostly locally grown food distributed by 75 volunteers in its Squash Hunger program to more than 80 food assistance programs in the greater Capital Region of upstate New York; (2) Its Urban Grow Center Market, based in a low-food access neighborhood of Troy, which sold over $100,000 of fresh quality food, a 300% increase from the previous year; (3) Its Veggie Mobiles which made it possible for families to spend food dollars on healthy fresh food, with a 62% increase in EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer)/SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) dollars used; (4) The over 400,000 apples delivered as part of its Farm to School program, which delivers local produce to area schools throughout the Capital Region including the Albany City Schools; and (5) Trees, border gardens and a rain garden, part of its Urban Greening Projects, which were planted/installed by its staff and 32 volunteers across the city of Rensselaer.
And what really captured our attention was the success of the Capital Roots Community Gardens Program, which was the non-profit organization’s original mission, the how and why for its establishment: to provide gardens and assistance to local individuals who wanted to grow their own vegetables but lacked the knowledge, tools or space to do so. This program has grown to 55 community gardens throughout the Capital Region.
In its spring newsletter, the organization notes that 4,000 people enjoyed the benefits of fresh food through their own labor in their own vegetable garden, which brought on average $1,500 worth of healthy produce to their dinner tables. Impressive.
The Capital Roots Community Gardens Program includes a diverse range of gardens of varying sizes throughout a region of over 5,000 square miles in upstate New York. Some of its community gardens are owned by the non-profit organization itself, like the newly established Morris Street Community Garden in Albany located in a very urban area near the Albany Medical Center. Others are owned by local municipalities like the long-established Normanskill Farm on the edge of the city of Albany alongside the Normanskill creek, which is owned by the City of Albany.
Also owned by the City of Albany are the well-managed Sam Yanni Community Garden near the former North Albany YMCA and the Hartman Road Community Garden on the western edge of the city.
Some of Capital Roots community gardens are no-till gardens like the Hartman Road Community Garden, others provide the option of being plowed/rototilled like the Sam Yanni Community Garden. Capital Roots’ map of its Community Gardens show details for each of its gardens including how many plots, whether the garden is no-till or plowed and whether plots are still available. For example, the recently established Morris Street Community Garden has 56 no-till plots; Normanskill Farm with 90 plowed plots; Sam Yanni Community Garden with 42 plowed plots; and Harman Road Community Garden with 63 no-till plots.
One of the 55 Capital Roots community garden, which caught our eye, is owned by the Halfmoon Heights Garden Homes Management Corporation in suburban Clifton Park. This real estate investment, management and development corporation owns manufactured housing communities throughout Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Southern Vermont and Southern New Hampshire. Homes in the Clifton Park, NY manufactured homes community are both owned and rented. This unique Capital Roots community garden provides gardening possibilities with its 15 no-till plots for residents of a well-maintained manufactured homes community.
(Frank W. Barrie, 5/8/21)