Tonawanda News

Features

June 30, 2013

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

(Continued)

“I went around begging everyone on the island for donations,” he said, smiling adding that the garden is a work in progress, but has plenty of room to grow.

Those who wish to participate are asked to contribute a one-time fee of $30, which helps pay for garden maintenance. Currently there are about 50 registered gardeners, John added. There’s room for about 100 more.

Once some of the vegetables are ready to be picked, mid-July, the Drehs’ plan is to create a farmer’s market to sustain the garden, and to help make Grand Island an All American City through one of its sponsors, the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and WNY.

At its core, gardening is about health and wellness, and that idea blooms most significantly at St. James Church in Niagara Falls, where church members work alongside those who are battling mental health issues. Pastor Daryl Bennet hopes the garden, built in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, will help dispel the stigma of mental illness, which she says impacts one in four people, often with troubling depression or anxiety.

She and Pastor Mark Breese of Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, are working together on the project, in hopes of teaching people that they don’t have to be ashamed of a mental health diagnosis. One way the pastors plan to do that is to gather mission and church people together so they can form relationships. 

Bennet has a special interest in mental health issues and thought that creating a garden would help her parish to learn about and help battle the stigma of mental illness. “It’s a real community project where everyone works together for the common good,” she said.  

Michele DeLuca is features editor at the Niagara Gazette. She can be reached at 282-2311, ext. 2263. 

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