Green Space is OUR Space
by Thom Dellwo

Urban areas all over the country have begun to see the value of creating community green space. Whether it is rethinking our parks to use the space more efficiently, or turning unused lots into community gardens, urban green spaces become safe learning/play areas for our children, foster the development of community organizations, increase property values and provide a haven from concrete and steel.

Eastside Community Gardens and Markets is a coalition of several groups in Syracuse that are interested in gardens and markets for a variety of reasons. Its mission is twofold: to work with community organizations and their members who want to create gardens in unused lots, and to help foster community run markets to sell locally produced crafts and fresh fruits and vegetables from community gardens and regional farmers. The aims of coalition members include the following:

The volunteers at the People's Equal Action and Community Effort (PEACE, Inc.) eastside office have created a garden on the property surrounding their building at the corner of East Fayette and Beech Streets, working on the part of their mission that seeks to help provide nourishment to the neighborhood.
Looking for a Community Garden in Your Neighborhood?
Many neighbors and groups have created green spaces on their blocks to grow food and get to know their neighbors. If you're interested in starting one in an empty lot near you, you can contact Syracuse Parks and Recreation for assistance, 473-4330. To check out some of the most active community gardens:

341 Midland Ave Community Garden
Started in 1997, the garden brings together neighbors on the 300 block of Midland Ave.

Morningside Community Garden
Located behind the Ed Smith School on Broad Street, Morningside has about 60 plots gardened by folks living on Syracuse's eastside.

Kwanzaa Community Garden
A garden, park and gathering place for the community on the 900 block of Midland Ave.

The lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods, such as those on Syracuse's eastside, is a focus of the Food Bank of Central New York. As part of the coalition they have worked on raising funds to support the garden/market project. They have also helped create the first farmers' market on the eastside. Beginning on July 20 and running until early October, the market will be held every Thursday from 3-9 pm at Lexington Park (E. Genesee St. and Columbus Ave).

The Boys and Girls Club hopes to use community gardens as training sites for youth in their Green Team program. The youth will be working in the garden at PEACE to learn about urban agriculture and supplement the volunteers already working there.

A project like the Eastside Community Gardens and Markets creates a system in which people can fulfill some of their own needs through their own efforts and working in their own community. In turn, a sense of empowerment and unity grows within the neighborhood, strengthening its ability to take on other issues that need to be addressed.

To help with the Community Garden at PEACE, Inc., email Brendan Ryan, bryan@peace-caa.org. To help with the Lexington Park market email Theresa Geldard, tgeldard@foodbankcny.org.



Thom lives on the eastside of Syracuse, volunteers with the Eastside Community Gardens and Market Coalition and works at the Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union.