New Roots in The Bronx: Update
As the growing season is well underway, the IRC in New York’s New Roots Program is continuing to strengthen its foundation and partnerships within the local Bronx communities where its urban agriculture sites are located.
At Drew Gardens, New Roots is working closely with partner organizations such as Bronx Green-Up, The Butterfly Project and Bronx River Alliance just to name a few, to ensure that urban food production continues alongside other important programming, such as the care and expansion of habitat for water species and pollinators, youth art activities, and kayak and canoe trips along the Bronx River. In addition, Drew’s vibrant community of gardeners, some of which have been part of the garden for more than a decade, others who recently joined, are coming together to create real leadership opportunities. Recently arrived refugee gardeners and members of the local community are being empowered to plan for future activities, such as starting a Farmers Market in 2014, adding laying hens to the site, and expanding food growing areas.
Further down in the South Bronx, the New Roots Community Farm at Grand Concourse and 153rd street, is budding with possibilities. At the start of the 2013 growing season, the site hosted 30+ growing beds where IRC gardeners, local community members and school children are planting and harvesting the season’s bounty. A strategic site plan will allow the space to meet its full potential by building large market production beds and designating areas for composting, chicken and bee keeping.
Leading the expansion initiatives of New Roots in the Bronx is recently appointed New Roots Program Manager, Kathleen McTigue. A native New Yorker with over 10 years of experience in urban agriculture and farming, Kathleen is no stranger to the challenges of growing food in a limiting urban setting. When asked what she hopes New Roots will bring to the greater Bronx community, Kathleen replies: “through New Roots, IRC gardeners and the local community will gain knowledge to increase food production while connecting to the land and creating vibrant green spaces for an exchange of ideas and best practices”.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to IRC New Roots interns, volunteer groups and partner organizations that are supporting both urban farm sites. Their help along with New Roots training and resources have enabled the creation of two active urban farm sites with stronger program roots for the seasons ahead.