WATERTOWN, N.Y. — The Urban Mission garden in partnership with Eat Smart New York (ESNY), Chapin Living Waters Foundation, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Master Gardeners, and Adopting Healthy Habits (AHH) with funds from Linking Interventions For Total Population Health (LIFT Population Health) is growing food for the Urban Mission Food Pantry for a third year in an effort to increase access to fresh produce among low-income individuals.
The Watertown Urban Mission is home to the busiest food pantry in Jefferson County, serving more than 450 families per month a five-day supply of food. This adds up to around 250,000 meals annually. The majority of that food is sourced through the Food Bank of Central New York to obtain economical bulk food purchases through the USDA. While most of that food is canned, dried, or frozen, through an ongoing collaboration with Chapin Living Waters and CCE of Jefferson County, a community garden was established in 2017 and is now in its third year. This 60×80 foot garden, right in the city of Watertown, allows the pantry to offer a wide variety of fresh, local produce to its customers. In its first year, the garden produced over 1000 pounds of produce. Last year the total was 1,600 pounds and the goal for this year is over 2,000 pounds of produce, all of which will go directly to the food pantry.
The garden is overseen by Sue Gwise, Horticulture Educator at CCE, and her team of Master Gardener Volunteers. In its first productive month this year, the garden produced: 1 pound Swiss chard, 2 pounds spinach, fourteen pounds of radishes, and 44 pounds of strawberries! Other crops include: collard greens, kale, lettuces, peas, yellow squash, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and broccoli. Says Gwise, “Once again the Urban Mission garden in Watertown is a great success. Thanks to Master Gardener Volunteers, the plants are excellent this year and production is expected to skyrocket in the coming month. The strawberry crop was very prolific with a harvest of over 50 pounds.”
–CCE of Jefferson County
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