Here is an article from the Washington Post about the ‘People’s Garden,’ an organic garden the Agriculture Department has planted (with compost provided by the Lehigh Valley’s very own Rodale Institute!) outside the agency’s headquarters on the National Mall. The garden, which was first planted in 2009, is one of over 250 the USDA has planted on its facilities across the world. Not only is the garden, supported by a federal government agency, further proof of the energy and resources city, state, and federal agencies are willing to marshall in support of community gardens, fresh, healthy produce, sustainable agriculture, and other related areas of this accelerating movement, but the article presents the different ways a community garden can become a location for educational presentations and cooking demonstrations, as well as a first step that generates subsequent environmentally conscious behavior, such as building plant beds that capture storm-water runoff. These are ideas we should keep in mind as our project grows; in fact, given the central location of the Maze Garden on Southside Bethlehem, it seems ideally located to host any number of events, presentations, and demonstrations.

As for our project’s more immediate plans, we will need volunteers on April 24th, when we install the beds at Ullman Park. Volunteers are needed to help put the beds into appropriate places and to shovel dirt (soil and compost provided by Bethlehem) into the beds. I’ll have more definite details in the coming days, but it is likely the work will last from approximately 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Please make time to come by and help, even if it is for only an hour to shovel. That Saturday is also the annual Spring on Fourth/Chili Cook-Off; it should be a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the festivities on Southside Bethlehem, beginning with volunteering your time to a worthy cause, one meant to bring healthy and locally grown food to the Southside community.

And there is one other upcoming event of importance to the well being and appearance of the Southside: this Saturday, April 17th, the annual Lehigh University/South Side Task Force Clean-Up will take place from 8 – 11:30 a.m. Volunteers are asked to show up for a continental breakfast, including coffee, donuts, and refreshments, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on the Lehigh University parking lots at Brodhead and Packer Avenue, where they will able to sign up. With students and town residents working together, teams will then spread out to designated neighborhoods. Tools, bags, and some gloves will be provided, and the clean-up will take place rain or shine.

We hope to see you at one of these events soon!