by Keith Riddick, Middletown Master Gardener Volunteer
With all the uncertainty in the world right now, many people have turned to gardening as a way of growing their own food as well as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. This isn’t the first time that people have turned to gardening during a time of societal upheaval. Most of us weren’t around, but many families started their own gardens during World War II. Back then, they were called Victory Gardens. Food and money were short during the war years, and fresh fruits and vegetables were sometimes hard to come by. Victory gardens gave people more control over their access to fresh produce and allowed more food to be sent to the troops that were keeping our country free.
Wait! Isn’t gardening a lot of work? It can be, but doesn’t have to be. If you are starting a garden from scratch, it will involve work to prepare the soil (removing sod, large rocks and testing the soil for fertility). However, if you want a garden bed already prepared for you, consider renting a garden bed at a local community garden. There are several community gardens located throughout the Orange County with raised beds full of soil and ready for planting. Chances are there is one not too far from where you live! There is a short list of community gardens at the end of this article, but there are many more located throughout the county.
During this time, community gardens are taking precautions that allow members to safely grow food. Although community gardens usually have communal garden tools, at the moment, you should bring your own tools. Other considerations include limiting the number of people in the garden at one time and finding safe ways to water your garden plot with the communal water source. When you join a community garden, make sure you are aware of and follow all the rules set in place to keep you and your fellow gardeners safe.
Another perk of community gardens are community plots, like an herb garden, for all to share. Many also have compost bins for recycling organic material like vines, stems and leaves leftover after you have harvested the edible part of a plant. This debris decomposes and is then returned to the garden beds as a type of fertilizer.
Maybe a community garden isn’t right for you at this time and you don’t have any space in your yard either. In that case, you can grow vegetables in containers. Whether you put them on your patio, your deck, or even your balcony, as long as the plants get enough sun and water you should have a bountiful harvest. You just can’t beat the terrific taste of fresh produce picked straight from the garden, so grow a garden this summer!
Community Gardens in Orange County New York
Location: 6 Old Dominion Road
Blooming Grove, NY 10914
Cost: $25 per plot
Contact: Joseph Sciortino
Middletown Community Garden
Location: David Moore Heights Apartment Complex (off of Genung Street)
Cost: $20 for 4 ft x 16 ft plot
$10 for residents of David More Heights or Summitfield)
Contact: Jackie Hale
Location: Benedict Park
(one mile west of the village of Montgomery, NY)
Cost: $25 for 20 ft x 20 ft plot
Contact: Richard Phelps
Newburgh Armory Unity Center Community Garden
Location: Newburgh Armory Unity Center
321 South William Street
Newburgh, NY 12550
Cost: $20 for 4 ft x 10 ft plot
$40 for 4 ft x 40 ft plot
Contact: Lisa Rittweger
Location: Warwick Valley Community Center
11 Hamilton Avenue
Warwick, NY 10990
Cost: $35 per year (includes garden and orchard)
There are no individual plots. All members work together to plant, maintain, and harvest the entire garden.
Contact: Kelly Collins