Food Empowerment and Sustainability at the Ithaca Community Gardens
“There’re only two things that money can’t buy — true love and home grown tomatoes.”
This quote from one of the gardeners at the Ithaca Community Gardens sums up well what the community gardens are all about. Long-term Ithacans garden alongside newly arrived immigrants, students, retirees, and families. Gardeners all learn from one another, share tools, seeds, and advice while admiring each others handiwork. It’s a place where the values of cooperation and community are practiced every day.
The Gardens embody food empowerment in Ithaca. People from all walks of life grow their own organic healthy food, while being part of a tight community of fellow gardeners. With only $40 a year (scholarships are also available) and a 250 to 280 square foot plot, many gardeners can grow enough vegetables to partially or totally feed themselves throughout the gardening season. The Gardens are buzzing with families, children, and people chatting and sharing plants all summer long. The gardens also provide food during the colder season, when gardeners can grow garlic, kale, and mid-season vegetables and flowers.
The role of the Ithaca Community Gardens in generating food empowerment goes even further. Many gardeners share their excess produce with the Ithaca Neighborhood Hub every week during the growing season. In 2014, the Ithaca Community Gardeners gave over 200 pounds of fresh produce, distributed to food pantries, local meal programs, and individuals.
The volunteer-run organization enables adults, students, and families to learn about growing plants, composting, and good stewardship when it comes to sharing tools, compost, water, weeding, and participating in volunteering tasks. The Ithaca Community Gardens builds a sense of community, friendships, promotes good health, and creates beauty within the city.
Located just off Route 13 near the Farmers Market, the Ithaca Community Gardens are easily reached by foot, bicycle, car or car sharing, making it even more sustainable to garden there.