Celebration of community and garden
Residents and staff at Robinson Gardens Apartments have long been aiming to plant a garden together.
This summer that finally happened, and the community came together in a way that was altogether fun and magical.
“This has been something we had wanted for a long time, and now it’s here,” said Ivette Fernandez, who serves as garden coordinator. Her work included drawing in residents which she accomplished with reaching out efforts that featured a newsletter.
“We work together, we’ve made many good friends, and now we can cook and eat the good food that comes right from our garden,” she said.
Robinson Gardens celebrated the harvest and cut the ribbon for a bigger and better 2017 garden at a recent Saturday afternoon gathering that included garden tours, ice cream, face painting, music, and visits by local elected officials and friends from the community. Included among the dignitaries were City Councilors Marcus Williams Bud L. Williams, Pine Point Community Council President John Lysak, and representatives of the nearby Dorman Elementary School.
At the celebration, garden enthusiasts spoke of the benefits of having the fecund area in the center of Robert Dyer Circle, formerly home to grass that usually dried out in summer.
“It really brought us together in such a great way,” said Petra Menger, who has earned a reputation for her specialty dishes with ingredients grown and picked straight out of the garden.
“People got so excited about it. We’re already planning for next year,” she added.
The community garden is ending its first season, the culmination of efforts and resources by residents, the SHA, the Talk/Read/Succeed! family-based literacy program, the Food Policy Council of Springfield, Harvest Farm of South Deerfield, and others.
Since spring, the garden has become a focal point for neighbors to check out the lush herbs and vegetables, and pitch in with weeding, deadheading, harvesting and whatever else was needed as plants went from seedlings to ripe, delicious foods and seasonings. Included in the harvest were eggplant, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, peppers, watermelon, basil, oregano, parsley and more. Next year, there will be garlic – plants are already in the ground.
T/R/S! Outreach Coordinator Lynne Cimino said the garden works exactly as planned, bringing neighbors together in a positive way, and with healthy results. Adults and children worked together on the project, she noted.
“Thanks to the SHA for believing in this, and for believing in the residents of this community,” Cimino said at a ceremonial groundbreaking for next year’s garden. “Our goal was always to work together as neighbors and have fresh, nutritious food to eat.”
“This is an opportunity for families to celebrate, to grow and to work together,” she said.
Towards the end of the growing season, a fence was placed around the garden. Next year, residents are planning to make more beds, and hopefully, have a shed.
In addition to ongoing technical and supplies support from the SHA, the garden received assistance and educational support from the Harvest Farm of South Deerfield and the Food Policy Council of Springfield.
Anna Muhammad, Community Garden Coordinator of the Food Policy Council said she looks forward to ongoing work on the garden, one of several in the city supported by the council, and one of three new community gardens.
“It was such a joy to be involved in this,” Muhammad said. “This has generated so much community and neighborhood support and involvement. It’s a great way to promote community, health and nutrition. You can see the joy and feel the love here.”
Copyright © 2013 Springfield Housing Authority. All Rights Reserved.