Ten Seasons Strong – The Hyde Park Community Garden
We have recently completed our tenth growing season at the Hyde Park Community Garden, which started decades ago as the dream and vision of long-time parishioner Allelu Kurten, who looked at the abandoned baseball field on the grounds of St. James’ Church, and thought about a garden instead.
Fast forward to 2012, when Allelu was planning to relocate from Hyde Park to an assisted living facility in Concord, Massachusetts. Our outreach committee decided that the best going-away present we could give her was ” Allelu’s Garden.” Accordingly, on her 82nd birthday, Allelu’s family and parishioners marched with butterfly wands in their hands to meet our then rector, the Rev. Chuck Kramer, to bless the new garden’s start.
The vision that Allelu always had was to grow an assortment of vegetables that would be donated to the Hyde Park Food Pantry every Friday during the season. Even though it started with a small 30’ X 40′ spot, we did in that first year manage to grow a variety of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and lettuces that were brought to the pantry for the clients’ consumption. Our original team of gardeners included one from the Hyde Park Methodist Church, one from Regina Coeli-St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, my husband (and current senior warden) Doug, and me. It was truly an ecumenical endeavor.
Within two years, word of the garden started to spread throughout the community and several people asked if there was room for them to garden for their own use but also donate as well. With the approval of our vestry, the garden was expanded to its current size of 80′ X 160′ . This past season, we had 28 gardeners of various skills ranging in age from 5 years to their mid-70s! It has provided many hours of solace to our members to hear the birds sing and our beehive buzzing with activity, and to watch the butterflies enjoying the flowers.
On the weekend of October 17th, our interim priest, Canon Jeanne Person, our Deacon Gail Ganter-Toback, and Deacon Shirley Lawson from neighboring St. Margaret’s in Staatsburg gave the garden its annual harvest blessing, thanking it for once again providing food for all of us including our food insecure neighbors who use the Hyde Park Food Pantry.
We welcome anyone reading this article to plan a visit to the garden next spring. I dream about having more of these much-needed community gardens throughout the diocese. You don’t need acres of land to produce enough food to help feed our neighbors! I am certainly available to share any information or advise anyone may have about getting one up and running in your parishes.