The first-ever Southside Community Gardens (SCG) First Friday potluck, held at the Maze Garden on June 4th as part of the First Friday festivities on Southside Bethlehem, was an important step for our project. Group members, volunteers, and friends worked hard to put on an inviting event in order to make the public aware of the work we are doing at community gardens on the Southside.

Though rain threatened to fall during the first hour, our spirits weren’t dampened, and when the storm clouds passed, a pleasant summer evening settled above the bustling activity occurring just beyond the southern banks of the Lehigh River. Soon a diverse turnout of folks—SCG group members working at our Maze and Ullman gardens, Lehigh students, faculty, and staff, Southside business owners and community members, graduates of the inaugural class of the Bethlehem Citizen’s Academy, and area residents active in the sustainability movement—made their way into the Maze Garden to see all the work we’ve done there since early May, while enjoying good food, music, and conversation with friends, both old and new. Not only did a friendly environment of growing community pervade the evening, but we also met a few new volunteers.

Along with the eclectic mix of homemade food prepared by attendees, anyone who stopped by the park had the option of taking home a free tomato plant, courtesy of SUN*LV and SCG. This proved to be a superb idea, as we provided a seemingly endless array of pleasantly surprised pedestrians, many of whom were out to enjoy the First Friday atmosphere on a cool June night, with a free, beautiful tomato plant while simultaneously drawing them into the garden to learn more about our project. Thanks to Judy Zimmerman, who together with her husband and two charming daughters worked all night to hand out plants and tell people about the SCG project. Julie Vitale and Matt and Molly Sanderson also spent large portions of the evening distributing plants and sharing information about SCG with passersby who happened by the Maze.

Thanks, also, to thank DJ Arm 18 (Andrew McIntosh), an adjunct professor at Lehigh who teaches a summer course on the history of Hip Hop. Andrew did a fantastic job providing musical entertainment throughout the evening, with assistance from Maria Zimmerman, one of Judy’s young daughters. Lou Cinquinio of SUN*LV, who provided the tomato plants, continues to be a great supporter and friend of our project; we are lucky to have the the folks at SUN*LV as a resource here in the Lehigh Valley for starting and supporting community gardens, so please take a second to learn about their important work. And, of course, thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and efforts to make the evening go so smoothly—cooking, bringing supplies, promoting the event, answering questions, cleaning up until late in the evening—as well as all those who stopped by during the night to see the Maze and learn more about SCG.

We’ll be hosting another First Friday potluck next month, on July 2nd, and we hope to see you there. While details are still in the works, we hope to have DJs affiliated with the Hip Hop Caucus and the Green the Block coalition join DJ Arm 18 on the turntables. Also, the gardeners working at the Maze have discussed the possibility of showing a documentary or other related movie in the park at some point this summer. We will be working out the specifics and feasibility of these upcoming summer events in the weeks and months ahead; please check back here regularly to learn more. We hope to see you next month!

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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!

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>

Hi All,

Please join us for a spring potluck dinner this Monday evening at the bottom of Roberto Clemente Park (directions are below, in the April 12th post).  Starting time is 5:30, but feel free to stop by later if you like.

The Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project is coming together this spring. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park garden is full, with community gardeners working 12 plots. And the Maze Garden on 3rd Street has a good core of people, with plenty of room for more gardeners; there’s a work date there this Saturday morning starting at 10:00 a.m.; the contact person is Lehigh student Chris Addy, email <cwa210@lehigh.edu>, cell phone 484-809-2454. The garden at Ullman Park is close to being set: SUN*LV is building eight raised beds, with a work date set there for next Saturday morning, April 24th; there may still be space available at Ullman – if you are interested, please contact me, John Pettegrew, immediately, at 610-390-8970. Donegan Elementary School is working with SCG on a raised-bed school garden; contact person for the Donegan garden is Lehigh graduate student Chiharu Tokura, <cht2@lehigh.edu>. And Broughal Middle School students are planting seeds in their greenhouse; container gardens are being discussed as a first step there.

Plans are also well underway for a Lehigh Community Garden on the university’s Goodman Campus, located south of South Mountain.

With the help of Bethlehem’s Citizens’ Academy and others, SCG is now focusing on organizing a community garden at the bottom of Roberto Clemente Park, next to the Lynfield housing development, on the east side of South Mountain. That’s the occasion for the potluck dinner this Monday night. We also want to have a time to get together, compare notes, and enjoy home cooked food and hopefully the good spring weather. Please join us and bring a dish or non-alcoholic drink to share. Here’s a flier with more details.

Also, please join us Wednesday evening, April 21st, for a free showing of the film Food, Inc., nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. It’s showing at 6:30 p.m., at Whitaker 303, on Lehigh’s lower campus. This is the final screening in the Food Film Series. Check out the trailer below!

Please contact me if you have any questions.

John Pettegrew
610-390-8970
jcp5@lehigh.edu

Attached is a flyer with details about an upcoming event which will be of interest to supporters of the Southside Community Gardens project; please print, post, or email to anyone who might be able to help!

From March 29th through May 15th, SUN*LV will be collecting used or new tools to benefit community gardens across the Lehigh Valley. The most needed items include: Shovels, Rakes, Spades, Hoes, Hand Tools, and Gloves (especially for children).

For more information, or to donate other gardening supplies, call 610-974-0916.

Tools can be dropped off at the following locations:

Lehigh County Cooperative Extension, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
4184 Dorney Park Rd., Room 104, Allentown, 610-391-9840

Northampton County Cooperative Extension, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
14 Gracedale Ave., Nazareth, 610-746-1970

Rodale Institute Store, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
611 Siegfriedale Rd., Kutztown, 610-683-1400

Community Action Development Corporation, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
409 East Fourth St., Bethlehem, 610-807-9337

West Ward Partnership, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
668 Northampton St., Easton, 610-559-3200

Sixth Street Shelter, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
219 North 6th Street, 610-435-1490

Items can also be dropped off at these special events:

Rodale Institute’s Plant Sale (April 16-17) and Spring Planting Festival (May 7-8)
611 Siegfriedale Rd., Kutztown

The Promenade Shops Plant Exchange (May 15, 9 – 10:30 a.m.)
2845 Center Valley Pkwy., Center Valley