New Rochelle small business consultant Hope Surpris and her mother Verna were at the Ward Acres Gardens Tuesday planting herbs and vegetables in her plot.
Hope is just one of the many community residents who believe strongly in organic gardening, sustainability, and eating foods that are grown locally. In renting her plot at the gardens, Ms. Surpris was looking for a way to get more involved in the city of New Rochelle and promote sustainability.
In its second full season, the Ward Acres Gardens have expanded from the original thirty six plots to eighty eight plots in just a few weeks. The gardens have truly been a community effort toward an increase in organic gardening and sustainability. Plots can be rented for fifty dollars with all proceeds going toward garden maintenance. There has been a huge show of interest by the community in supporting the gardens and following the principles of organic gardening.
A cocktail party fundraiser was held and five thousand dollars was raised to contribute to a water infiltration system into the gardens and the neighboring dog park. The local dog community has donated money, Bulfamonte Nurseries of New Rochelle has tilled the land twice in preparation for the gardeners, compost bins were donated by Westchester County and the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity donated a shed for the periphery of the gardens.
Six of the plots are rented by Hope Community Services, a local soup kitchen. The Ward Elementary School occupies eight plots, with each grade having its own plot to grow whatever it pleases and incorporate the garden into the science curriculum. Shoprite even provided breakfast for fifty on the opening day of the gardens.
Jean Haley, a teacher’s aid in Harrison is one of the newest gardeners at Ward Acres. Her garden plot is a family effort. Kathy Gilwit, a mother of nine and Communications Manager for the city, spent mother’s day planting seeds. There are even several families who are scholarship recipient at the gardens and use everything they grow for sustenance.
The purpose of the gardens was to create an opportunity for community involvement and to promote awareness of organic gardening and sustainability. As is evident by the expansion and still lengthy waiting list of community members who wish to rent out plots, the gardens have clearly achieved their goal.