The Wesley Community today unveiled a new community garden available to city residents and located behind the Embury Apartments. Wesley officials and garden volunteers celebrated the opening of the Saratoga Springs Community Garden with a ceremonial first harvest.The garden includes more than 50 raised beds – five wheelchair accessible – and are available for Saratoga Springs area residents to use throughout the growing season. Nearly 40 local residents have tended beds this year and the remaining beds are available for use by residents at The Wesley Community. Many of the gardeners were drawn to the project because they didn’t own land suitable for growing their own crops.
The Wesley Community provided the land for the garden along with significant excavation, lawn and tree plantings while city residents, local businesses and foundations provided time, funding, expertise and materials to the project.
“Providing the land for the community garden was a way for us at The Wesley Community to give back to those who have supported us over the years,” said Brian Nealon, president and CEO of The Wesley Community. “So much hard work went into the planning and construction of the garden. It’s wonderful to see it in full bloom.”
The garden was the brainchild of long-time Saratoga resident Susan Bokan, who was bitten by the gardening bug last year when she grew an assortment of vegetables at her home. A fan of locally grown, wholesome foods, she decided to try starting a community garden that would be readily accessible to gardeners in the city.
Last summer Bokan shared her idea with Nealon. As it turned out, The Wesley Community was looking for someone to spearhead a successful garden effort. Bokan spent much of the winter with local gardeners and businesspeople, and soon received start-up funding from the Saratoga Foundation, land from the Wesley Community and additional support from city residents and members of the business community.
Construction began in early spring and was completed in time for a late spring plant following hundreds of hours of volunteer work from the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit and many other local individuals, who constructed the raised beds; Mike Ingersoll and the landscape architects of the LA Group; Barbara Sofranko, president of the Embury Garden Association; Natalie Walsh, who chronicled the construction of the garden and offer’s gardening tips on the garden’s blog; Bill Dake, Allerdice, Nothern Dean, Unlimited Potential, Saratoga Plan, Cleveland Brothers, Peter Saxton, Chris Bennett, Remo Cianfarano, Pallete Stone Corp., WJ Morris Excavating, National Grid, Pat Popolizio, Steve Valentine and many others.
“The response from the community has been amazing and the volunteers who donated their time and resources to this project are responsible for the beautiful garden we have today,” said Bokan, the volunteer coordinator of the garden. “We achieved everything I imagined the garden could be and so much more. Residents of Saratoga and The Wesley Community will be able to come together and enjoy all that gardening has to offer for years to come.”
Residents without garden plots are encouraged to come take a stroll through the community garden to admire the plants in full bloom.
For more information or to apply for a plot, visit the community garden blog at http://www.saratogaspingscommunitygarden.wordpress.com. A fee of $25 is assessed for each plot to cover running expenses.
About The Wesley Community
The Wesley Community is a 36-acre, not-for-profit agency in Saratoga Springs, NY, which serves the needs of the elderly, as well as active seniors, adults and pediatrics. Sponsored by United Methodist Health and Housing, Inc., The Wesley Community’s unique continuum of care community provides independent and enriched living for seniors, subsidized independent senior housing, adult day services, short-term rehabilitation and long-term care, as well as outpatient therapies available for people of all ages.