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Clifton Park man has plan for community garden

Clifton Park man has plan for community garden

One of two town parks eyed
Clifton Park man has plan for community garden
The Memory Garden in Garnsey Park off Route 146 in Clifton Park is pictured on June 14.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

CLIFTON PARK — Longtime town resident Al Czerpak wants to bring a community garden to either Garnsey Park or Veterans Memorial Park.

Community gardens generally are parcels of land that are cultivated collectively by members of the community in which they are established.

A public meeting to discuss the effort will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.

Czerpak, who has lived in Clifton Park for 45 years, first heard about community gardens in other municipalities a few years ago, citing the Capital Roots Community Garden in the City of Troy and the Community Gardens in Guilderland.

“That sort of drew my interest,” he said.

As Czerpak, who does his own gardening, researched the concept, he decided it was a project that might work well in Clifton Park.

As land development continues, and pressures are put on local farms to sell their land, it is important to retain a space that can be used on some scale for agriculture, he said.

Czerpak has been working with master gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension to formulate plans for a garden specific to Clifton Park. He has also spoken with open space experts in town about the idea.

If there is a large enough turnout at the library meeting, he will take his plans to the Town Board, he said.

A community garden, he added, could also serve as a recreation program for the town. Residents could use it to grow food that could be sent to local food pantries, and children would be able to use the garden for education purposes.

“I just think it’s a very positive thing,” he said.

New York state also supports community gardens through its Community Gardens Program. The state works with various municipalities to identify suitable areas for the gardens and helps community groups work with their local governments to facilitate agreements to use the land.

The garden would be on land owned by the town. Czerpak estimated the garden would require 2 to 3 acres initially, and an annual fee of $20 to $30 per community gardener might be needed to pay for technical aspects of the project, such as fencing and access to the town’s water supply.

Czerpak also said a community garden could be utilized by older town residents who live in condos and don’t have a lawn, but still want to garden. He’s hoping the initial meeting will generate enough interest to bring the idea to the town.

“Get the people involved, because this is really what this is for,” he said.

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