OSWEGO, NY – In March 2012, Katie Stout and Mike Bonney reached out to Mayor Tom Gillen to ask for help to locate land for a community garden.
Katie and Mike, organizers for the Oswego Center for Sustainable Living, had gathered several interested residents who wanted to start a community garden.
With assistance from the Oswego Community Development Office and the DPW, the group started the first Community Garden on East Schuyler Street just south of the Crisafulli Ice rink, planting raised beds on top of the former railroad bed.
They were growing food by June that year.
Since then, the east side garden has grown to 60 garden plots and eight community plots.
In 2013, several bushels of food from the daily harvest at the East Side Community Garden was donated to the Human Concerns Center food pantry.
Andy Nelson coordinates the Fort Ontario East Side Community Garden.
In March 2014, Aaron Cassidy and Alan Gillingham, two SUNY Oswego students, initiated an effort to establish a west side Community Garden, when they heard the east side garden was full.
The students contacted Oswego Community Development to find sites for a west side garden.
Key volunteers from the east side garden and west side residents met on March 26th and several opportunity sites were explored. Then Paul Munger, an NRG employee, informed a west side gardener that NRG was interested in sponsoring a community garden. Jim Walsh, Environmental/Safety Manager for NRG, met with Community Development and the West Side Garden Coordinator, Valerie Orr.
NRG has contributed approximately an acre of land and the lumber to build 10 garden beds to jump start the 2014 NRG West Side Community Garden initiative.
Oswego DPW has provided loads of compost and 30 volunteers have contributed their labor and ideas to make this project a reality.
There is plenty of room for more raised beds for future gardeners.
Anyone interested in becoming a community gardener may contact Nelson at 315 296-6471 or register for a community garden plot at www.oswego-cfsl.com/communitygardenjoin.html