InterGenerate & the Community Garden Movement in Westchester, NY: Where Hope Blooms Large

InterGenerate’s new community garden in Mt. Kisco

By Peggy Clarke

Until recently, the United States was the breadbasket of the world—able to sustain its population.  Today, America is a net food importer, dependent on large corporations for the nation’s food supply, often turning a blind eye to the human cost paid by migrant workers and generally uninterested in the price that the planet is paying for transporting all that food across countries.

But a movement is growing across the country, as people band together with neighbors, friends, family and complete strangers to embark on the common goal of growing their own food. Community Gardens, like the Victory Gardens of generations past, are sprouting up everywhere, inspiring cooperation that is grounded in the common need for food and a commitment to finding alternatives that are safer for Earth and all her inhabitants.

Gardening is an excellent way to address many problems. Community gardening provides equal access to fresh food at very lost cost. Growing produce locally creates greater food security and doing it organically, as is common in community gardens, reduces the risks associated with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Local sourcing also has a dramatic impact on reducing the nation’s carbon footprint, since nearly a third of that footprint currently stems from agri-business and associated transportation. In addition, community gardens can build and strengthen communities across diversities that often divide them.

Currently, there are six gardens in Yonkers, thanks to Groundworks Hudson Valley. There’s also a new garden at Ward Park in New Rochelle, at least one urban garden in Mt. Vernon, a bird-friendly demonstration garden at the Bedford Audubon, and a re-opened and revitalized garden in Ossining. The most established community garden in the county, Onatru, is located in South Salem. And this year, InterGenerate has opened an 80-plot community garden in Mt. Kisco that is also serving families at the Inter-faith Food Pantry.  InterGenerate also opened a Teaching Garden at John Jay Homestead and runs an intergenerational garden camp at Bylane Farm in the month of July.  And this doesn’t count the myriad school gardens that are becoming commonplace in our county. Because these gardens require funding, InterGenerate has founded the Westchester Community Garden Network to raise funds on behalf of all gardens in the county.

With the budding of all these community gardens, people are getting to know their neighbors, learning how to grow their own food and rekindling the home arts of preserving, freezing and pickling to get through the cold winter. The development of local gardens gives people the power of self-determination, provides food security, builds communities and lets us live more gently on Earth.  Grab a hoe and join the revolution!

Peggy Clarke is Co-Founder of InterGenerate. For more information about Community Gardens in Westchester or InterGenerate, visit intergenerateny.org.

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