SCG members Jessica Stuart and Judy Zimmerman planting the Maze Garden for the summer

On Saturday, May 22nd, the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project held a plant sale and work day at the Maze Garden, a beautiful community garden located at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets on Bethlehem’s Southside. The day proved to be a far-reaching success, with a great turnout, as an energetic and diverse group of people from throughout our growing community came together to work hard to sell organic vegetable plants, pull weeds, turn the soil, and plant vegetables and herbs that should bring an abundance of fresh, locally grown produce to the Southside during the coming summer months. Included among those who volunteered their time and sweat in order to make the day such a satisfying experience were SCG group members, Southside residents, members of the Lehigh campus community—faculty, staff, and students—people involved with important Southside businesses and institutions, leading figures in the local sustainability and community gardening movements, and many passionate gardeners, including several people who have gardened at the Maze in the past and who provided invaluable information about the garden’s seemingly endless bounty of plants, flowers, herbs, berries, vegetables, and much more.

The organic plants sold at the morning’s sale, a varied selection of peppers and tomatoes, were kindly donated by the Turnip Truck. The purpose of the sale was to raise money for and awareness about our project; we were quite pleased with the number of people who came by the Maze Garden to purchase plants and learn more about our work on the Southside. Thanks to Lehigh graduate student Jessica Stuart for taking the lead in promoting the day’s activities.

Matt Sanderson helping Walker Hulvat mix compost and soil

Throughout the morning, SCG group members who had signed up for a plot at the Maze, together with other SCG gardeners and volunteers, got down to the hard work of finally planting the beds—pulling weeds, turning the soil and mixing in rich, dark mushroom compost, and planting various pepper and tomato plants, dill, chives, green beans, and more. Many of these plants were kindly donated by Lou Cinquino and our good friends at SUN*LV, and, since it was such a sizable donation, we were able to share plants with people working our other gardens—Ullman Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, and the Lehigh community garden. After several hours of work, friendly conversation, and cooperation, the Maze Garden was planted for the summer, with space remaining in two of the beds so the gardeners can add a few new vegetables in the coming weeks. While many people contributed to the day’s success, special thanks are in order for Gisela Corrales, Peter Crownfield, the Hasz family, the entire Hulvat family, Dan Hunter, Professor Matt Sanderson of Lehigh, Jessica Stuart, and Judy Zimmerman.

The Maze Garden is planted!

Most of all, thanks to everyone who stopped by to buy a plant or ask a question, who volunteered some of their time and energy, who contributed in any way, big or small, as Saturday was an important (and enjoyable!) day for the SCG project. We owe the day’s feeling of reward and success to the community of people who have come together to improve the availability of fresh, locally grown food on Bethlehem’s Southside.

One of the frequent topics of conversation throughout Saturday’s work day involved the lack of fresh produce at food banks and the ability of excess food from community gardens to address this area of need. Here is a story that is particularly relevant in light of those discussions, about a New Jersey farmer who has been donating vegetables from his garden to food pantries.

Using Nature’s Bounty to Feed the Hungry

Don’t forget about another upcoming SCG event: on June 4th, as part of the First Friday activities on the Southside, we will be having a pot luck dinner at the Maze Garden, with music provided by local musician DJ Arm 18, from 6 – 9 p.m. Plans are in the works to have a cooking demonstration and food donation, with a focus on the benefits of cooking with food you have grown, at the garden as part of the First Friday festivities. Please check back here regularly for details. Finally, we hope to announce a work day soon for the community garden at Roberto Clemente Park; recent developments have us feeling optimistic that we will be installing raised beds in early June.

We hope to see you soon!