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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Community garden plots can yield more than produce

Life at Home

Community garden plots can yield more than produce

No room to garden where you live? No problem.
Community garden plots can yield more than produce
Signe Smith found some peppers ready for pickin' last year at The Wesley Health Care Center community garden in Saratoga Springs.
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No room to garden where you live? No problem.

The Capital Region is home to a number of community gardens where you can rent a spot to grow produce, and maybe even some friendships.

A community garden is a piece of land that’s divided into individual garden plots. Each is tended by a different community member.

Capital District Community Gardens has more than 850 plots available in 49 community gardens throughout Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and southern Saratoga counties.

Six of the gardens are in Schenectady County and two in Saratoga County.

Saratoga County is also home to a community garden run by Wesley Health Care Center on the center’s campus in Saratoga Springs.

For a $30 donation, gardeners can rent a plot in one of CDCG’s community gardens. If that price is a hardship, a lower one can be worked out, said Executive Director Amy Klein.

Plots average 400 square feet and are managed with organic techniques.

For new gardeners, or those who just want to hone their skills, the organization offers gardening classes and has an educator ready to assist with gardening problems.

“A lot of people that we’re seeing in the community gardening program are novices,” said Klein. “Many don’t even realize you can’t put a tomato seed in the ground here in the Northeast.”

CDCG also provides gardeners with free seeds.

Each CDCG garden is fenced and locked. A tool shed containing garden tools for gardeners’ use and a water source can be found at each site.

“All they need is a pair of gloves and a hand trowel and they can be all set,” Klein said.

The gardens are situated in low-income neighborhoods throughout the region, but they are open to anyone, regardless of their place of residence.

“The best thing about community gardens is they become a melting pot of the community. People from all backgrounds work together for this common goal,” Klein said.

Important interaction

It’s like that at the community garden at Wesley Health Care Center, too.

Between 12 and 15 of the plots in the 53-plot garden are tended by seniors who live on the campus, and the rest by the public at large.

“Being able to get people from the Saratoga community onto our campus that might not have a reason to touch our campus otherwise is just really cool,” said Brian Nealon, CEO of the Wesley Community. “And then you get the multigeneration interaction going on, where you’ll have these people in their 80s and sometimes 90s who are living on campus who are talking to these complete strangers because they have plots next to each other. The person from the community has brought their dog and their children and it’s absolutely glorious to watch, to say nothing about the good food that comes out of it.”

Now in its third growing season, the Wesley garden includes eight plots that are at wheelchair height, wheelchair-accessible paths and a pergola for people to relax under. There’s also a stocked communal tool shed and spigots scattered around the garden.

The cost to rent each 5-by-10-foot plot for the season is $25.

A waiting list has already been started for this growing season, but Nealon said plots do occasionally become available, so it’s worth signing up.

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