Pictured are several volunteers who spent the majority of their Saturday morning and afternoon helping with the installation of the new community garden in North Tonawanda. (Photo by David Yarger)
Thu, May 10th 2018 05:00 pm
Sommer Street garden gives back to community
By David Yarger
Back in January, Rich Tedeschi of Imagine Community Gardens proposed a plan at Lumber City Church about a possible community garden in the City of North Tonawanda. Nearly four months later, that same idea is being installed on Sommer Street in NT.
On Saturday, May 5, volunteers gathered to help set up a community garden on the 200 block of Sommer Street. The volunteers installed the H-pod gardens from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The new community garden will give those in need in the neighborhood a source to acquire nutritious vegetables for their families. The garden will also provide around $3,000 worth of vegetables to local soup kitchens and food pantries.
The location of the garden was also selected because most council members and others involved felt it was an area that needed it the most.
Tedeschi has had plenty of experiences with community gardens and said there have been changes after gardens have been installed.
"From my experience in Lockport, we noticed homes around the area began getting invested into. Windows were being replaced, houses were getting painted, grass was being cut. It was an area where cops were driving down every 20 minutes, drug dealings have basically disappeared.
"We're anticipating big changes in North Tonawanda," Tedeschi said.
Those who come to the garden will also be assisted with partners from Lumber City Church and iHope Church. Tedeschi said working with the partners will "Show the love of Christ to others and create intimate relationships amongst each other. It will be a nice effect and people there will be friendly."
Lumber City Church Pastor Chad Rieselman, a big-time advocate of the garden, said, "North Tonawanda is definitely on the rise. The revitalization we've seen from Gateway Harbor and up Webster Street and the beautiful work being done in the iconic Wurlitzer building is certainly creating a sense of growth and hope in our city," Rieselman said.
"There are great people in North Tonawanda. A community garden that is not only accessible to every person in our community, but actually gives them the ability and responsibility to be part of helping it to thrive and making it successful gives ordinary people the ability to be part of this great wave of revitalization. One of the most beautiful places in our city will be credited to them."
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas said, "The garden will provide to people in the area and will reach out and bring the community together to help people in need. Many people enjoy helping people in need and keeping the city look aesthetically pleasing.
"It will also stimulate social interaction and create an opportunity for recreation, exercise, help the neighborhood and bring the community together."
Pappas added that the City of North Tonawanda works well together in time of need and the city is full of community minded people who like to improve the lives of others
"This looks like it's probably going to be very nice and we're happy we jumped on board," Pappas added.
Rieselman said the garden will bring a quality light to the area and provide essentials to the community.
"The visual beauty of this garden would bring a level of pride and vibrancy to any community. Sommer Street is by no means a blighted area. There was a lot that was simply unused. That site will now be a beautiful place for the community to gather and work together to not only keep it beautiful, but to share the best of the crop with their neighbors.
"It may only be a supplement to the needs in the neighborhood, but it will meet one of the greatest needs we all have - a need for community. That need will be met through their good neighbors," Rieselman said.
Tedeschi added that volunteer support has been terrific throughout his years with community gardens. He said, "We haven't had turnover at all. No one has left and it's mindboggling because it's a volunteer role."
Tedeschi said the volunteers come out weekly and that shows their true dedication to the gardens.