[The following post was commissioned by Scotts Miracle-Gro]
A few days ago the kids and I headed into the city to visit a community garden that has benefited from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Gro1000 program, a community outreach initiative that provides grants to community gardens. This particular garden is on the roof of Metro Baptist Church, and is managed by the Clinton Housing Development Company, which is headquartered across the street.
The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project was started as a way to provide more fresh produce to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. All of the produce grown on the church’s roof is donated to a food pantry, which is also located in the church. Last year, they provided the Rauschenbush Metro Ministries Food Pantry with over 150 pounds of fresh produce! From what I know about food pantries in NYC, it is not very common for them to have fresh produce, so this is much-needed.
Metro Baptist Church
We met Lauren, who runs the Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project, as well as some other programs for the CHDC. She started out as a volunteer, but is now in charge of coordinating all of the other volunteers who work on the garden. We headed up many flights of stairs (four? Five? I lost count) and emerged in an urban oasis.
As you know I’ve really gotten into gardening in the past few years, and I love that all of these veggies are being grown in plastic kiddie pools! Anybody could reproduce this at home. You drill holes in the bottom of the pool for drainage, and then put a layer of drainage fill in the pool (they used the little plastic containers that plants come in, turned upside-down of course – brilliant!). Next comes a bed liner to keep the drainage fill in place, then soil (I’m a big fan of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix). Add some chicken wire and netting if you have bird issues, like they did. These pools are also up on foam blocks, to help drainage even more.
Lauren giving Jake and Fiona a tour of the garden
On the day we visited, the rooftop was filled with volunteers from a large corporation, as well as some of the garden’s regular volunteers. Jake and Fiona got to help out by planting some radishes. But first, we took a tour of the garden, trying to identify the herbs by smell and taste.
The kids both got mint right, of course. Basil and thyme were harder for them. Fiona got rosemary right away though – she’d just eaten some from our garden a couple days before. Also, Jake answered “Parsley!” first for anything he didn’t know. I have no idea why. He doesn’t even like parsley!
This community garden has tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, a bunch of different herbs, and more. The lettuce looked especially good. I’ve never grown lettuce, which is crazy, since I love salad!
The kids got their hands dirty doing a little planting, guided by Lauren.
Everything that’s grown in the garden is recorded (and everything that’s harvested is weighed). Jake entered the radish planting into the record book.
And then they made sure that the seeds wouldn’t be eaten by birds.
I really loved spending time in this garden. I’ve donated lots of food to food pantries, and it was always shelf-stable – canned and boxed food. Fresh produce is so important for a healthy diet, but in many parts of NYC it can be expensive and hard to get. The amount of work it takes to make this rooftop garden happen is not small, but the people I met at the Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project were so dedicated and enthusiastic. Fiona got really fired up and said she wanted to start something like this in Brooklyn!
This post was written as part of my partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro and its GRO1000 grant program.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 13. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.