Roots and Wings has three gardens on South Church's campus dedicated to supporting community food resilience. All are welcome to learn and grow together!
We have also inspired Dobbs Ferry Pollinator Pathway at the High Street Parcel and have contributed the seed monies for a garden at First Presbyterian Church in Mt Vernon.
Kitchen Garden - a community vegetable garden wedged behind South Church, between Community Nursery School's turn-around and Oak Street. Our community compost bins are adjacent to our gate. Gardeners have individual plots as well as communal space and grow food for the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. They meet on Saturdays from 10 am to noon.
Although our gardeners have changed over the years, here's an introduction to the group.
Garden Manager: Iris Hiskey Arno
Labyrinth Garden - our first garden, a native pollinator spiral in front of South Church, along Broadway. MORE.
Garden Managers: Roubi Eliopoulis and Liz Gabay
Manse Garden - a permaculture-inspired new project. We hope to grow annual vegetables for a year. This would give us an opportunity to get to know the land, before considering planting perennials, making bigger changes, and even designing a community food forest.
Garden Manager: Greg Rosen
resilience, transformation and community
by Marcello Taiano, Garden Manager
When I first heard of the kitchen garden, it really resonated with me. I looked at it and thought, “This is it.” I think it was meant to be that I became involved with it.
My parents and I moved from Argentina when I was seven. It was hard for all of us. When we came we didn’t know the language. We didn’t have anyone. What saved me was that that my dad and I became homesteaders in the south Bronx with another six families and individuals. For those who are not familiar with homesteading, it was a movement to rehabilitate living spaces with some city support and sweat equity. We met as a group every Saturday for the next six years organizing a plan of reconstruction as well as working within the building in order to try to preserve its deteriorating structure. This was in the mid 80’s and it took us a total of nine years to compete the project as we say many members come and go along the way. The last people standing developed a very strong bond and we will always identify ourselves as homesteaders.
It was through another homesteader that I discovered community gardening. The Cherry Tree Association, a community group made up of squatters, had taken control of a large plot of land on Willis Ave, about four clocks from our homesteading site. This group was made up of an eclectic and diverse set of individuals who had the common goal to transform an ugly plot into a sustainable and productive garden. It took a couple of years but at the end we were able to grow almost any kind of vegetables, we built a casita for meetings, and even raised chickens. During this time we visited dozens of gardens all over the city. We compared gardening methods, admired each other’s productions and spoke about ways of protecting our gardens from the city urban plans. We were constantly under the threat of having our gardens taken away from us but through petitions, rallies and community meetings we were able to fight city hall and save almost all of our gardens. I’m proud to say that this garden at Willis Av, after over 25 years, is still thriving with new and old members. The same is true for 272 Alexander Ave, our homesteading project where my dad still lives today.
Like the kitchen garden, just takes resilience, transformation and community.--Marc Taiano, at South Church Celebrates Roots & Wings, April 2013