TLC Leaders Tour Area Community Gardens

There is a special effort of community and care that goes into creating spaces within a city that provide residents with beautiful foliage and fresh fruit and vegetables. On Saturday September 27, The Leadership Classroom (TLC), an initiative of the Central New York Community Foundation, led recent graduates on a fun and informative bus tour to learn about what goes into creating and maintaining community gardens in the Syracuse area.

The five-garden tour was said to be energizing and engaging, harvesting the opportunity to bring together active community members from past TLC sessions. Each stop demonstrated the great impact community gardens can have on area residents, thanks to the hard work of volunteers.

“I was so inspired by the gardens and all of the individuals who are a part of them,” said Katie Scott of the Northside TNT. “Their love, joy, passion and commitment were contagious. I wish all of the residents of Onondaga County were there.”

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Participants began their tour at the beautiful 34-acre Salt City Farm which boasts a collaboration between Syracuse Grows, Refugee Assistance Program, Assumption Church Food Pantry, the Hatcher family and several volunteers including the Urban Delights youth. Leaders from TLC were able to witness the opportunities that Salt City Farm offers to some of the 60 refugees enrolled as farmers this season. The opportunity to participate in growing their own produce and honing their farming skills has played an important role in the lives of resettled refugees in Syracuse. This farm allows refugees to participate in growing food that they can bring home at no cost. Recently, three volunteer farmers were hired by Owera Vineyards as trained agricultural employees.

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The TLC class also visited Pebble Hill Church community garden, which is currently run by a neighbor and involves diverse gardeners who donate their excess produce to Jamesville Food Pantry. Another garden visited is led by Stone Soup on the Near Westside of Syracuse. The Stone Soup Garden is an urban organic garden and outdoor classroom focused on inspiring a connection to nature, oneself, and the community. This garden brings together students from Huntington, MANOS and Brady Faith Center in an outdoor classroom to promote garden-based experiential learning in a natural urban setting.

Other gardens included were Meachem Area Parks Association’s Memorial Garden and the Syracuse Rose Garden which was voted as the second best rose garden in the country in 2010 by All-American Rose Selections. Both these gardens exemplified the role that volunteers can take in beautifying our neighborhoods and increasing community pride.

“It was  a wonderful and inspiring day for me to make the bus trip and learn about what is going on in our greater Syracuse community,” said Praja Shapkota of the Bhutanese Community Association.

Participants left excited to add outdoor activities to their own work for the benefit of neighborhood residents. The TLC Advisory Committee, comprised mostly of TLC graduates, designed the event and hopes to visit more community gardens in the future.

More photos from the tour can be seen here:https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4hdarm

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