Garden grows with community support

GLOVERSVILLE – The Community Garden on Fremont Street continues to grow and is beginning to take shape after having its expansion approved by the Common Council last month.

In June, retired City Court Judge Vincent DeSantis received the council’s OK to expand the community garden on Fremont Street through the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corp.

The garden is on the west side of Fremont Street and south of the intersection of Fremont and Forest streets.

The not-for-profit group will lease the property from the city for four years at $1 per year.

DeSantis said the garden – which is in its fourth growing season this summer – has become more successful as more families in the area have gotten involved.

DeSantis said he and members of the community are still working to repair the existing fence on the back side of the garden, and they might plant a “living fence” along the sidewalk. That would be a section of greenery planted to grow densely and tall enough to act as an obstruction from foot traffic.

They also have plans to have a shed placed on the site to be used to store equipment and other items needed to maintain the garden during the year, he said.

DeSantis told the council he would like to divide the southern half of the expanded garden into 12 individual plots so each family could have its own section.

However, this week he said the family portion of the garden now has 14 individual plots, all of which have been claimed.

He said the northern side of the garden would be used for production agriculture. However, that portion of the garden didn’t need as much space as expected, so DeSantis said they plan on leaving the northern half vacant for now to leave recreation space for the children of the community to continue playing in.

“Kids often use this space for activities and things, so we would really like to leave it open for them,” DeSantis said during a tour of the garden on Monday.

The group has already planted row crops as a small-production farming operation with the intention of marketing locally grown produce to the public to raise community awareness of both nutritional and ecological issues, the council resolution states.

DeSantis said he would be selling the crops at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. The money from the additional crops would be used for maintaining and repairing the garden, he said.

DeSantis said having a community garden forms social bonds in the neighborhood. He previously said that part of the city could use some “social cohesiveness.”

On Monday, DeSantis said the community in the area around the garden has supported and contributed to the effort to expand the garden.

“The community in this area has really embraced it,” said DeSantis. “The support has been outstanding.”

The group also plans to place a picnic table and trash can under the tree on the property to provide a place for people in the community to enjoy the outdoors.

The Gloversville Public Library’s Dig Into Reading Summer Reading Program has a plot at the site where children can learn about seeds and plants and discuss what people might plant in the garden.

The expansion was done at no cost to the city, but the Glove Cities’ public works departments have supplied compost and wood chips to the effort, DeSantis said.

He said this is the group’s first major effort, but in the future it will look to continue to allow the garden to grow and tackle other community issues such as blight and housing through various grants.

Levi Pascher can be reached by email at [email protected].

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