MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County (CCEOC) has been working with three agencies, Newburgh Amory Unity Center, Inc., Newburgh Urban Farm & Food Initiative, and Access Supports for Living this summer and fall to expand the growing, harvesting, and distribution of produce from three community garden locations, while providing nutrition education outreach. The three gardens are at different stages of development, operation, and distribution. Their target audiences are also diverse.
One such agency is Access Supports for Living who established a community garden at CCE Orange’s Education Center & 4-H Park in the town of Mount Hope. The garden was built from scratch under the supervision of the Garden Manager, Ed Fairweather working with Access clientele. The workers learned how to garden. This included, getting their hands right into the dirt, how to plant the seeds, and how to grow their crops. They grew tomatoes, melons, beans, and radishes to name a few. Altogether they harvested 500 pounds of produce this season. The harvested produce was donated to the CCEOC Gleaning Program for distribution throughout the county.
Monday, Sept. 25th, the Garden was dedicated to Lt. Gregg Atlas, a NYC firefighter who tragically lost his life in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Lt. Atlas was a resident of Orange County, and his wife JoAnn Atlas established a foundation fund in his memory through Community Foundation of Orange & Sullivan. Gregg was an avid farmer. Each year he grew and harvested in his quarter acre garden and the produce was shared with family, friends, and neighbors. In memory of Gregg, the community garden built by Access and CCE Orange was dedicated to Lt. Atlas and is now called “Gregg’s Garden”. Celebrating were the gardeners from Access Supports for Living who worked all summer in the garden learning, growing, and having fun. The fund was created to honor and celebrate Gregg’s life and love of gardening. “What a wonderful day and honor for Gregg, especially today which would be his 67th birthday,” stated his widow JoAnn. “Gregg loved gardening and sharing with others. He would be so honored to be part of the program and know others are being feed.”
The fund provides grants to nonprofit organizations that support and promote programs for adults with autism and their families. Also honoring Lt. Atlas were Mariann Cheney of Access, Karen Vaughan and Chris Masters, Executive Director of the Foundation, JoAnn Atlas, Orange County Legislator Janet Sutherland, Mary Pat Smith representing the County Executive, Lucy Joyce Executive Director of CCE Orange County, and Ed Fairweather, the Garden Manager, along with staff and board members.
The goal moving forward is to expand more community gardens to include other agencies sharing the teaching of gardening and food preparation along with nutritional education to disabled individuals and their families.
Cornell Cooperative Extension and its partnerships provide programs for Orange County residents on youth and family development; nutrition, health, and food safety; community and economic vitality; and agricultural sustainability through Cornell based research. Committed to Orange County, we design programs to meet local needs to enable people to improve their lives and communities. For more information call Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County at 845-344-1234 or visit our website at www.cceorangecounty.org.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County