The end of the harvest season for 2017 has kicked off the next period of planning between the Alfred Food Pantry and the Alfred Community Garden.
In the spring of 2017, the two food-focused groups established a collaborative partnership designed to attack food insecurity. As a team, both organizations implemented their experiment, which delivered important victories.
“For the first time, Alfred Food Pantry volunteers cultivated two raised bed plots in the Community Garden, and their yield provided fresh, high-quality produce to pantry clients throughout the growing season,” explained Cassandra Bull, AmeriCorps VISTA member for the garden.
Alfred Food Pantry volunteers Hope Zaccagni, Barry Clark, and Linda Lewandowski were the champions that tended to the garden plots. The Community Garden provided the free seeds (courtesy of a core group of seed vendors such as High Mowing and Seed Saver’s Exchange) and Alfred State College generously provides access to both the land for the garden and the greenhouse space that allowed the gardeners to get a head start on the growing season.
“It has been our intention to provide fresh food to underserved families for quite some time, and the response from our clientele couldn’t have been better. For the 2018 growing season, we’re hoping to both expand our growing capacity within the garden and experiment with educational objectives” explained Zaccagni. “Having the confidence to know that you can feed your own family with fresh, organically grown produce is empowering.”
Inspired by the successes in the 2017 season, the Alfred Food Pantry and Alfred Community Garden are planning a “Garden-Buddy” Program. Home-gardening is a great way to obtain access to low-cost fresh fruits and vegetables, but like any project, can be daunting at first. This program will provide current food pantry clients and other low-income individuals the resources to learn basic gardening techniques.
The Alfred Community Garden believes in the healing power of dirt, and aspires to help support public health and self-sustainability in their area. Its gardeners have been working for seven years to improve the food and nutrition literacy of the neighborhood, and cultivate an appreciation and demand for a local food culture in rural Allegany County. Guidance for the garden is provided by Alfred State’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Interested in becoming a community gardener? Each gardener receives access to their own free plot, seeds, and greenhouse space. Whatever is grown on the plot is yours to donate or enjoy at home. The Alfred Community Garden is always looking for dedicated gardeners to benefit from this opportunity, and no experience is required. For more about the garden, contact Sandy Dennison at DennisSJ@alfredstate.edu or call 607-587-4069. Like the Community Garden on Facebook.
The Alfred Community Garden would like to give a special thanks to the Food Pantry and acknowledge David DuBois, food pantry volunteer and liaison to the garden, for his innovative spirit and tireless efforts that bring the food pantry and the garden together. His efforts were critical to the project’s success.