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70 homes grow new gardens

Originally posted in June 2021

The second year's distribution of the 'Bloom Where You Are Planted' program expanded upon the success of the first year by adding new garden owners and by diversifying the type of container. Over the weekend of June 5-6, 70 container gardens were dispensed to residents of Etna, Millvale, and Sharpsburg. Participants were given options for produce containers including a five-gallon bucket, a planter box, or even a KIDDIE POOL. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and strawberries were some of the options offered, but one nutrition-minded resident went with crunchy leaf kale. ECO Board Member Veni Mittal, Etna Councilwoman Alice Gabriel, and Garden of Etna Manager Tom Quigley sought to provide a container for any kind of yard, stoop, or window so that everyone who was interested in the program could have access to fresh produce this summer. It was also a great way for gardeners in the region to connect with each other. Tom Quigley relates that the container growing program “is a great opportunity for the Garden of Etna to expand beyond its physical boundaries. Our hope is that the experienced gardeners will be able to connect and share with newly identified gardeners throughout the neighborhoods."

For the distribution, participants had the opportunity to collect their garden at any of the Triboro gardens or opt for home delivery. Alice Gabriel reflected that the “distribution of the plants went smoothly overall. We had a handful of gardeners help plant and organize beforehand, which made a big difference. The garden coordinators of Millvale and Sharpsburg were kind enough to care for plants dropped at their gardens until participants could pick them up. Those receiving home delivery were appreciative and enthusiastic. We were happy to see lots of smiles when people received their plants. One participant made my day with an email giving thanks 'for making the world a better place.'"

The container garden program did more than bring fresh food to residents; it also helped to bring three communities together. All three municipalities are considered “food deserts” - a place without a grocery store inside their borders. Veni Mittal voiced the importance of expanding access to gardening and fresh food: “Increased access to gardening not only helps communities and people to grow their own and fresh, healthy food but also provides the space for powerful neighborhood-level social exchange. It creates an opportunity to carry on the food cultures, identify community assets, build networks, and empower us to advocate for ourselves and the places we live.”

If you are participating in the program, we'd love to see pictures of your growing produce. Please share them with the program coordinators or on social media.

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