After taking a month or so off to recharge the old batteries, dear readers, I am back. Of course there’s nothing like an article appearing in the Register about the subject nearest and dearest to my heart to get me going again. About a month ago I voiced my frustration in this blog about the community garden project I have been spearheading in earnest for the past two years. I shared my story with Register reporter Susan Misur. She was kind enough to meet me at the site of the garden, 100 Plainfield Avenue, along with a photographer, to get my perspective on the situation. I give them both a lot of credit for their willingness to get to the acre of land proposed for the garden because the property is so overgrown it almost took a machete to get through on the old driveway leading up to it.
There are some quotes from Mayor Picard and Open Space Commission President Mary Jane McQuarrie in today’s article that I found interesting. Of course I realize the city is cash-strapped. The community garden will not be developed using city money. I have said this over and over and over to everyone. A site plan was created by the city’s engineering department. The land will be cleared by the state for free. The one cost will be for the fence, roughly $9,000. Perhaps the raise and tuition money totaling $7,220 the Mayor received and is paying back can be used toward it? Very cheeky of me I know, but I bring it up because it’s not a lot of money comparatively speaking. There are donations that can be used, grant money is available and can be sought, and perhaps West Haven’s great benefactor, Yale, can chip in some money, too.
In the article McQuarrie states, “that particular piece of land is really out of the way, so protecting it is difficult.” I did not select it. It was identified to me by City Council members and the Open Space Commission. It’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood. A house and farm was situated on the property at one point, so I am not understanding how, or why, it will be difficult to protect. There will be a 7.5 foot fence around it with a gate. Of course, there are plenty of community gardens that are out of the way, depending on your definition of “out of the way.” Peter’s Rock in North Haven comes to mind. They have a fine garden that is flourishing.
According to the article, Mayor Picard thinks the garden should start on a smaller piece of land. Really? Like what, my back yard? Seriously though, I am very curious to know where the Mayor would suggest for a smaller piece of land. And why? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I don’t think he knows the first thing about this garden project.
For the first time in 38 years, the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce (WHEAT) closed its doors to residents in need due to lack of food to give out. While it was only closed a short time, families with children do rely on its resources. According to Rose Majestic, WHEAT Director, WHEAT assists about 3,000 households every year in our city. During the summer months, the community garden could help to provide fresh produce to these families in need. But food donation is just one part of the community garden project. Education is another part of it. Wouldn’t it be great if children could be taught how to grow food, how to cook with it, and the nutritional value of it?
Community gardens only benefit the communities they are in. Besides producing nutritious food, they improve the quality of life for people in the garden; stimulates social interaction; encourages self-reliance; reduces family food budgets; reduces crime; creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education; provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections, and the list goes on and on.
It’s sad and frustrating that the city has been unable to come together to work on this very worthwhile project and make it happen for the good of the residents.
Here’s the story that appeared in today’s Register: http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/08/03/news/metro/doc501b2ff65a6f6315348654.txt?viewmode=fullstory