Tonawanda News

Features

June 30, 2013

Meet me in the garden: Community gardens grow so much more than flowers and veggies

All around the region people are on their knees, digging and planting together in community gardens, but while it may look like they’re just trying to grow tomatoes or kale, they’re doing so much more than that.

Community gardeners are also building relationships, strengthening neighborhoods, empowering themselves and in some case, fortifying their connection to God, according to those who create them.

For example, in Lockport, a pair of churches have banded together to create a lush garden in a struggling neighborhood, helping city people and country people work together to create something beautiful. 

“Our focus is to join churches together — city churches and suburban churches — to use community gardens as an outreach program,” said Richard Tedeschi, vice president of Imagine Community Gardens, the non-profit overseeing a community garden at 227 Washburn St. in Lockport.

The garden is tended by volunteers from The Chapel in Lockport and The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville. Neighbors have joined the effort and will reap the benefits. In addition, a portion of the garden has been set aside to feed the needy at community kitchens. The whole project has met its founders’ greatest expectations, Tedeschi said.

“It’s just people meeting people, sharing, having fun and growing vegetables — and often meeting people outside their sphere of influence,” he said. “That’s what is so exciting. It’s really fun to watch.”

Often, the gardens are being built on vacant and abandoned lots, bringing beauty and life to neglected eyesores.

In Niagara Falls, Greenprint Niagara, a non-profit created by Niagara University, is working to lease and insure vacant lots to help create more gardens. 

“We’re looking for any organization, individual, business, block club, any kind of group looking to take on a community garden for any reasons,” said Tom Lowe, Greenprint chairman, who added that Greenprint is building a demonstration garden at 2102 Main St. in the Falls. “We’ll show five or six small versions of what you can do on a larger scale on a vacant lot of your own.”

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