Community Garden Planned For Flanders

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Community members in the western portion of Southampton Town could have a chance to test their green thumbs this spring in a community garden planned for the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders.

Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who is spearheading the project, said Monday at the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association (FRNCA) meeting that her hope is that the garden will create an opportunity for people of all ages to come together and learn an activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The garden would be located on the town-owned grounds next to the Crohan Center, which is home to the Southampton Town youth and senior centers. Ms. Scalera said she hopes that both groups, as well as the various civic groups in the area, including FRNCA and the Bay View Pines Civic Association, will get involved with the project.

Participants would help tend to the gardens throughout the warmer seasons, with the benefit of reaping some of the fresh harvest.

Ms. Scalera explained that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County has offered to sponsor the garden through its Creating Healthy Places in Suffolk County program, a facet of the Family Healthy and Wellness Program.

Susan Wilk, coordinator of Creating Healthy Places, said Monday that the New York State Department of Health awarded Cornell a $1.2 million grant in 2010 to establish that program, promote wellness, and reduce obesity over the course of five years. Since then, the organization has completed 44 projects, which include the establishment of community gardens, farmers markets, nutrition education, child care centers and biking and walking trails.

The roughly $5,000 needed for the materials for the garden in Flanders will be provided by Cornell, though Ms. Wilk explained that the organization often receives the donation of many materials from community businesses.

The garden in Flanders will have six to eight beds, each about 4 feet wide and 8- to 10-feet-long and, following a recommendation of Cornell, a portion of the harvest will be donated to a local food pantry. Ms. Scalera added that she hopes that participants could coordinate with the Flanders Farm Fresh Food Market, which is operated from the parking lot of the Crohan Center during the spring and summer as well.

The next step, Ms. Scalera and Ms. Wilk explained, is recruiting “community champions” who can act as leaders and dedicate their time to tending to the gardens. “It’s hard work—no doubt about it,” Ms. Wilk said.

But the excitement of seeing the garden flourish while partaking in the physical activity makes it worth the while, she added. “To think they started with just a piece of property—barren space,” she said.

With any luck the garden will be ready to go this spring.

“It will be ready,” Ms. Wilk said. “We will get it there.”

Anyone who is interested in participating is asked to attend a community meeting at the Crohan Center off Flanders Road at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 3.

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