With the growing season drawing to a close, the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project has scheduled end-of-the-season work parties at two of our community gardens in Southside Bethlehem. On Saturday, October 2, from 9-11 a.m., there will be a work party at Ullman Park, which is located at the intersection of Sassafras Street and 378 as 378 begins the climb up South Mountain toward Center Valley. Then, on Sunday, October 3, from 2-4 p.m., there will be a work party at the Maze Garden, which is located at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets on Bethlehem’s Southside. These work parties will be an opportunity to straighten the gardens and to put them to rest for the season. Tidying the gardens now will also be a great way to begin preparing the beds for next year, while enabling group members, gardeners, and interested volunteers to come together and begin planning for the spring of 2011.

It is no surprise that our first year included a mixture of successes and failures. Coming together to mark the close of the season will serve as a way to share our experiences, learn from what we did wrong as well as what we did right, and discuss what we can do better in the future. With the beds in place and certain problems addressed, we want to be sure and build on SCG’s first year, ensuring that these gardens are a part of the fabric of the Southside community for years to come. Working together to straighten the gardens should be a very productive and energizing way to close the season.

Volunteers are welcome and eagerly invited, as we hope to begin the process of building interest and momentum for 2011. Feel free to stop by at any point during either work day to join us in working to establish a network of community gardens in Southside Bethlehem. These work parties will be a great opportunity to learn more about our project and become involved as we start thinking about next year. If you have tools or extra work gloves, please bring them, as we will surely find a good use for them.

To learn more, ask questions, or get directions, contact us at <southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com>.

Since these work days fall on the same weekend as October’s First Friday, we will not be able to put the same time and energy into organizing our monthly potluck at the Maze Garden. DJ Arm 18, however, has kindly offered to take charge of this month’s activities; he will again be spinning records in the garden, beginning at approximately 6 p.m. on Friday, October 1. If you are out and enjoying the First Friday festivities on the Southside on what will hopefully be a beautiful autumn evening, we hope you have time to stop by the Maze Garden. And don’t hesitate if you would like to bring a dish or beverage to share; even though the SCG project won’t be able to organize a formal potluck, nothing would speak more clearly to our growing presence on the Southside this year than if the community came together to share food, listen to music, and visit in a more informal, spontaneous, and, dare I say, organic way.

We hope to see you soon!

A sense of the passing of seasons has lingered over Bethlehem’s Southside in recent days. Cool evenings are a reminder that autumn’s changing spectrum of colors is near; Lehigh students are returning to the Southside to start another semester; and life’s regular rhythms are falling back into step as summer vacations become yesterday’s memories. After taking a month off due to our busy August schedules, the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project is excited to announce that we will be hosting another First Friday potluck dinner at the Maze Garden, located at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets in Southside Bethlehem, on September 3rd from 6 – 9 p.m. Music will again be provided by DJ Arm 18.

September’s First Friday also marks a special occasion: Mayor John Callahan of Bethlehem will be in attendance to dedicate a bench donated to the Maze Garden by the Bethlehem Citizens’ Academy Alumni. So come out and see all the hard work the gardeners have put into the Maze Garden throughout the summer; talk to SCG gardeners from all of our gardens, including the Maze, to find out about what we’ve grown, what we’ve learned, and what we’ve cooked with our own locally grown produce during our first year; learn how to become involved with the SCG project; and get your Labor Day weekend off to a refreshing start by enjoying good food and live music with old friends and new acquaintances as we continue to bring our growing network of community gardeners and interested Bethlehem-area residents together for outdoor activities on late summer and early fall evenings at this inviting community garden on the Southside. If possible, please bring a dish or a non-alcoholic beverage to share.

We hope to see you there!

As often happens once the long days of summer set in, time has flown by, and the start of July is already upon us. After the wonderful community-based event we had in early June, the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project is excited to announce that we will be hosting another First Friday potluck dinner at the Maze Garden, located at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets in Southside Bethlehem, on July 2nd from 6 – 9 p.m. Music will again be provided by DJ Arm 18, who we hope will be joined on the turntables by other DJs from the Southside community. Come out and see how the Maze Garden is progressing now that summer has officially begun; learn how to become involved with the SCG project; and get your 4th of July weekend off to a great start by enjoying good food, live music, and engaging conversations with friends, old and new, as we continue to bring our growing network of community gardeners and interested Bethlehem-area residents together for outdoor activities on warm summer evenings at this inviting community garden on the Southside. If possible, please bring a dish or a non-alcoholic beverage to share. Here is a flier with more details.

We hope to see you there!

The Maze Garden on Bethlehem's Southside

There will be activities at several sites involved in the Southside Community Gardens project this Saturday, April 24th, so please stop by to help, or to learn more about our group and its goals.

We have a work day scheduled at Ullman Park, from approximately 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., with the duration of the work dependent upon how much the park is ready for us to do, so to speak (in other words, we may not need all 6 hours to complete the work). Basically, the nature and amount of work we will be doing on Saturday depends on how much progress is made at the site by Saturday. We will definitely be assembling the raised beds, which are being built off site by our friends with SUN*LV (Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley) right now, to be delivered Saturday morning. The work involved will include measuring to line up the beds for symmetry and level, assembling the “kits” with screwdrivers (holes will all be pre-drilled), and pounding in some rebar to anchor the beds. If the people from the Bethlehem Parks Dept. have stopped by the park by then and marked where the beds can go, then we will also be placing them. And, as a possible third step, if the dirt/compost has been delivered by the parks dept. by then, we will also be able to fill the beds with newspapers first, and then dirt/compost. Some tools will be provided, and I’m going to bring what I have at home, but please bring anything you have – screwdrivers (electric screwdrivers would be great), shovels, buckets for transporting dirt, and any other tools you have that would be helpful.

The annual Spring on 4th celebration, including the Chili Cook-Off, will also be taking place on Saturday afternoon on Southside Bethlehem. Some of the people signed up to garden at the Maze Garden plan to have an organized presence at the site in order to answer questions about the planned garden and spread the word about the SCG project as people from throughout the Lehigh Valley are out and about in Southside Bethlehem during the afternoon’s festivities. To learn more, contact Lehigh student Chris Addy – <cwa210@lehigh.edu>, 404-809-2454.

Saturday will also be a great chance for everybody who has signed up for a plot at either garden site to meet and to begin talking about how to organize the group and how to work together, so please plan to stop by and help, if only for an hour or two.

Please contact me if you have any questions or need any more information.

Thanks,

Blaine Waide, Blog Editor
570-540-0239
<southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com>

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!

The next Southside Community Gardens meeting will be Tuesday, April 6th, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Banana Factory on Southside Bethlehem. (A previous post indicated that the meeting would be from 7 – 9 p.m., but this was a mistake. I apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.)  The evening’s purpose is multi-faceted: to continue outreach with southside residents who may want to garden a plot; to sign the people up who have already expressed interest; to start to organize the leadership and design of the different gardens – with Maze and Roberto Clemente in most need next week; and, generally, to provide occasion for members of the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project to come together in comfortable environs and further imagine and plan for this spring, summer, and fall.

While plans for next week’s meeting are still being finalized, we hope to be joined by Dr. Meagan Grega from St. Luke’s Hospital. Dr. Grega’s work addresses childhood obesity issues, and she stresses the need for better decision-making skills in the areas of nutrition and exercise. Her perspective will underline the nutrition-health component of our project, and establish the connections between the benefits of urban community gardens and larger health concerns people confront in their daily lives, such as childhood obesity, nutrition and dietary habits, the need for an active lifestyle, and food safety.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for people to confirm their plot reservation by signing the one-page “agreement” document, to get further information about the project as a whole, and to gather into groups and figure out any practical questions or concerns regarding the next steps for the garden where they have reserved a plot. And people will have the chance to share any announcements with the group.

Finally, we have made progress on several important logistic matters since we last met: the one-page “agreement” document was printed today, March 30th, and the SCG brochure will finally be ready early next week.

Next week’s meeting is an important event. We will be less than two weeks away from building the gardens, and this informal get together is going to be one final opportunity to meet as a group – and to get to know each other – before we begin the work (and fun!) of growing fresh food together in Bethlehem’s Southside.

I will post complete details about the meeting in the coming days.

We hope to see you there!

If you cannot make it, please contact us at <southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com>, or 570-540-0239, and we will be sure to keep you updated about developments as the exciting day of planting our gardens approaches.

The following event may be of interest to those involved with the Southside Community Gardens project, as well as members of the South Side Initiative. Please direct all questions to the email address listed below.

Hello friends of the Southside,

Your help is needed on April 10 from 9am till noon (or beyond!) – will you give an hour or so to cleanup a significant historical landmark on the Southside?

St. Michael’s Cemetery is in dire need – we need volunteers to do everything from bake cookies for volunteers, to move tons of dirt! There is a job for everyone: sweeping, picking up litter, weeding, edging, digging, cutting brush, trimming, pushing wheelbarrows, shoveling dirt … we need all kinds of help on April 10.  We could also use donations of sandwiches, sodas, water, etc., for volunteers.

Will you help? Read this flier for details. The views from St. Michael’s are wonderful, you will meet a great group of volunteers, and will have a great sense of accomplishment as you contribute to the preservation of this historic community landmark.

If you plan to bring a group, please drop me an email. If you plan to show up as an individual, just come on over! SPREAD THE WORD!

Thanks!!
Kim Carrell-Smith
kwc2@lehigh.edu
Board member
South Bethlehem Historical Society