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City's community garden will be a place for learning

I recently attended a city of Plattsburgh Common Council meeting where the council voted to continue the land agreement with the Plattsburgh Community Garden. For many reasons, I was glad to see the city support the gardens.

Community gardens provide gardeners with nutritious food as well as reducing the family food budget. The gardens are also beneficial to the community by stimulating social intergenerational and cross-cultural interactions, reducing crime, beautifying neighborhoods, and even providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development.

The community garden will be home to a project I will be starting this summer - a teaching garden. The first year of the program will be partially funded through the Towards Sustainability Foundation. The idea of a teaching garden came after visiting some of Burlington's many community gardens, including the city's teaching garden.

Teaching gardens allow community members to join a group of people learning how to grow their own food. Each participant has his or her own plot and any vegetables in the garden belong to that individual. Twice a week, all of the gardeners join together to learn about garden topics and tend his or her plot under the guidance of an instructor and other experienced gardeners.

The teaching garden will be at the Plattsburgh Community Garden in Melissa L. Penfield Park on Boynton Avenue. The program will run for 20 weeks. While the program is grant-funded, the majority of the funding is for a summer intern to help create, teach, and evaluate the program. A modest course fee will be charged to offset the cost of plot rental, seed, transplants, and soil amendments.

Any community members wishing to learn more about the teaching garden should contact me at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office at 561-7450 or alb326@cornell.edu.

Anne Lenox Barlow works at Campbell's Greenhouse in Saranac and has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County.

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