NORTH CREEK The North Country Outreach Center provides a critical service to the community. Through its numerous programs, the center serves as a vital link between those who seek help, and the support, assistance, and guidance they need. This year, the center will unveil its latest project, a community garden for the benefit of families throughout the region. The project is led by Garden Coordinator, Kim Repscha of Chestertown, a graduate of the Cornell Cooperative Extension master gardener program, and gardening enthusiast. This will mark her second community garden project, after establishing a similar venture on privately-owned land in Igerna four years ago. We have five families that garden on that property, Repscha says. We just share in the cost of seed, manure, fence building and the labor then split all the food five ways. We grow a lot of food, usually enough to carry us through the winter. Its a wonderful experience to find a place to garden when you dont have a place to garden. The first stage of the Outreach Center Community Garden will be to clear a portion of vacant land behind the Centers property, with space anticipated for ten, 100 square-foot beds. Following the preparation, the area will be fenced-in to deter wildlife. Water and hoses will be provided, and the group hopes to establish a tool-share program for anyone that does not own gardening tools. We want to help people learn to garden, Repscha says. We have a lot of work to do because its a new location, and were looking for a lot of helping hands. The garden will be accessible at all times, gardeners may grow anything they wish, and its use will be free of charge as part of the centers no charge policy. A ten percent charitable donation of all food grown will be requested, to assist the centers food bank efforts, and a table will be provided so those in need can help themselves. This is for anybody in the community who wants extra space to grow food, or has never gardened before, and we can give them tips on how to start, Repscha adds. Or if they find themselves living in a place where they cant have a garden. The center has people stop by daily for food, so this will be a nice addition of fresh produce for them. Currently, four of the available gardening plots are committed, and the center is actively seeking additional participants and volunteers. What we have discussed is if all the spots are not taken, wed like to encourage some volunteers to take the space and grow food just for the Outreach Center. In that case, we will plant it and donate all of it. With the initial funding provided through a $1,000 local grant, donations, and volunteer time, the group looks forward to building on their success to the point where a farmers market and community garden could be established in the village of North Creek. I think providing fresh produce to those in need is the greatest benefit to everyone concerned, Repscha says. The Outreach Center does give food, but its all packaged food that can be stored long term. I think its a nice opportunity to offer people fresh food, particularly food thats organically grown, so they are feeding themselves well. A lot of people dont have the opportunity to buy fresh produce, so well be able to fill this need. For more information, contact Garden Coordinator Kim Repscha, at (518) 494-2331.