Friday, August 10, 2012

From a Cemetery to a Rest Stop

In our last episode of "The Saga of the local Community Garden" the community garden we used for our first few years in the Binghamton, NY area, run by Broome County, was discontinued by the County.  The land, once the site of a Potter's field, was sold to a developer for a retail area called "The Gardens".

We went from gardening in a former cemetery to no garden at all.  Our small plot of land at our house is too shady for much of a garden.  The neighborhood groundhog eventually got whatever we tried to start in pots.  For a list of everything a groundhog will eat, email me. It's a pretty long list.

We went without a garden for about three long, very long, years.

But finally, one woman took action.

A woman, Margaret, lived in an apartment in a housing development in Binghamton. She was a long time gardener in the former community garden. 

A local businessman who owned a moving and storage company also threw his support to our cause.  He (or perhaps both of them) met with the county.  People had heard that a rest area on I-81 on the edge of Otsiningo Park was being closed.  Why not have this closed rest area made into a community garden site?

Broome County said if we came up with $500 and 30 signatures  ($35 a person) the county would go ahead and do the initial plowing, but after that they would only do the staking out and hooking up water. A community gardening association had to be formed.

After that the gardening association had to be responsible for plowing in spring, plowing in fall, and paying for the water bill.

A meeting was called of interested parties, and the Otsiningo Community Gardeners Association was born. My spouse has belonged to the association since the beginning in 1997.  Our first gardening year was 1998.

The only thing county does is stake in spring after plow, and in fall they set up a couple of dumpsters for the garden waste. Everything else is done by the gardening association.

Plot fees go to paying water bill, plowing, incidental expenses.

We have been successful, and in fact the plots sold out this year.  But, sadly, Margaret died a year or so after the new community garden started up.

The current President of the Association for the 2012 has some ambitious plans for our community garden. This year, for the first year, a cover crop will be planted and our gardening year will end in mid-September. (normally, it ends the end of October.)   I will blog more about his plans later this month.

Incidentally, our garden is not the only community garden in Binghamton.  A non-profit organization called VINES operates several (what I would call) inner city community gardens in Binghamton.  VINES operates a weekly booth at the Otsiningo Park Farmers Market stocked with produce from an urban farm it runs. 

If any of my readers are familiar with VINES I would love to offer you a guest post slot. 

And if you are a community gardener, I would love to hear from you, too.

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