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 following event may be of interest to members and friends of the Southside Community Gardens project, as well as anyone committed to learning more about or becoming involved with the organic food movement.  Head here for full details, and see below for basic information and a schedule.

NYC Premiere Week! WOAO? is almost HERE!!

“What’s Organic About Organic?” is on the brink of kicking off its national tour with a week-long premiere at HERE’s Dorothy B. Williams Theater in New York City from June 21st to 27th and we’d love to see you there!

The premiere will also serve as the launch of the film’s Screen & Green campaign, which aims to partner with local organizations and companies nation-wide and encourage the audience to take the next step beyond watching the film and become an engaged participant in the organic food movement.

The film’s premiere week will also include a Summer Solstice Celebration on June 21st and a post-screening fundraising party for NOFA-NY on June 25th at HERE’s adjoining café, Dom Hudson Square. A $20 donation is requested to come enjoy a free drink and local, organic food grown by several farmers in the film.

Screening Dates: June 21 – 27, 2010
Time: 7:00pm / additional matinee screening at 2:00pm on June 26th & 27th
Location: HERE, Dorothy B. Williams Theater,145 Avenue of the Americas (enter on Dominick Street one block south of Spring), New York, NY, 10013

Online ticket sales, $10: To avoid disappointment please purchase tickets in advance as seating is limited.

Post-Screening Schedule of Panelists

Monday, June 21 – 7pm screening
Topic: The challenges of bringing organic food to the NYC population, the trend of urban farming and the replicability/scalability of the organic farming model
Jacquie Berger, Executive Director, Just Food
Hilary Baum, Co-Founder of Food Systems NYC and Founder, Baum Forum
Richard Mandelbaum, Social Justice Coordinator, CATA, Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas
Barbara Shinn, Shinn Estate Vineyards

Tuesday, June 22 – 7pm screening
Topic: Organic farming as a solution for climate change
Paul Mankiewicz, Executive Director, Gaia Institute
Karen Washington, President, NYC Community Gardens Coalition
Maria-Paolo Sutto, Program Coordinator, Urban Design Lab of Columbia’s Earth Institute
Urvashi Rangan, Environmental Health Scientist, Consumer’s Union and “character” in WOAO?Anna Lappe, Small Planet Institute & Author of Diet for a Hot Planet

Wednesday, June 23 – 7pm screening
Topic: The ability of farmers’ markets to create a direct relationship between people and their food and farmers
Michael Hurwitz, Director, Greenmarket Program, GrowNYC
David Hughes, Operations Manager, Greenmarket Program, GrowNYC
Bob Lewis, NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Challey Comer, Farm to Market Manager, Watershed Agricultural Council
Fred Kirschenmann, Board President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Thursday, June 24 – 7pm screening
Topic: Restaurants and organic farming
Elizabeth Meltz, Director of Sustainability, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group
Patrick Martins, Co-Founder, Heritage Foods USA
Jimmy Carbone, Owner, Jimmy’s 43
Carlos Suarez, Owner, Bobo Restaurant
Ian Marvey, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Added Value

Friday, June 25 – 7pm screening, for NOFA-NY fundraiser to follow at 9pm
Topic: Reconnecting urban and rural food systems
Scott Chaskey, President, NOFA-NY
Peter Hoffman, Chef, Back Forty and Savoy, Member of Chef’s Collaborative
Adriana Velez, Communications Coordinator, Brooklyn Food Coalition
Liana Hoodes, National Organic Coalition
Greg Swartz, Willow Wisp Organic Farm & Character in the film
George Stoney,  Documentary Film Professor, NYU

Saturday, June 26 – 2pm matinée
Topic: The benefits of organic food for child health and development
Annie Novak, farmer and founder of Growing Chefs

Saturday, June 26 – 7pm screening
Topic: The benefits of a field-to-fork relationship
Joan Gussow, Professor Emerita of Nutrition Education, Columbia University
John Gorzynski, Farmer/Owner, Ornery Farm and “character” in WOAO?
Claudia Keel, President, Traditional Nutrition Guild; NYC Chapter Leader of Weston A Price Foundation

Sunday, June 27 – 2pm matinee
Topic: Composting and urban farming
Christine Datz-Romero, Founder & Director, LES Ecology Center
Yonnette Fleming, Urban Gardener

Sunday, June 27 – 7pm screening
Topic: Organic nutrition and food retail
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, New York University
Anne Saxelby, Owner, Saxelby Cheesemongers
Urvashi Rangan, Environmental Health Scientist, Consumer’s Union and “character” in WOAO?
Dennis Derryck, Founder, Corbin Hill Farm
Marty Mesh, Executive Director, Florida Organic Growers,  Co-producer and “character” in WOAO?

Come on out!  Join the discussion!

A reminder that we will have our general monthly meeting of the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project this Wednesday, June 9th, at 7 p.m. In addition to assessing our progress so far, we’ll be discussing plans for future SCG projects and events. The meeting will take place in room 101, Maginnes Hall, on the Lehigh University campus. Metered parking is available directly across from the building, and directions to Maginnes Hall may be found here. Our monthly organizational meetings, which are open to the public, are held the second Wednesday of every month, at 7 p.m., on the first floor of Maginnes Hall, on Lehigh University’s Lower Campus.

Also, there will be a conference on urban farming next Friday, June 18th, at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in College Park, Md., which could be a great opportunity for members of our project to hear leading figures from the urban farming movement, such as Will Allen, speak and present; learn more about many issues related to our work; and meet a wide array of people interested in and passionate about urban agriculture, community gardens, sustainability, and more. John Pettegrew has mentioned the possibility of SCG sponsoring attendence at the conference. Click the link below to learn more, and let John know if you are interested in attending.

Sowing Seeds Here and Now! A Chesapeake Urban Farming Summit

We hope to see you tomorrow!

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!

Please join us on First Friday, June 4th, from 6 – 9 p.m., as we welcome summer to the Southside with a night of food, music, and friendly conversation at the Maze Garden, located on Bethlehem’s Southside at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets. With the cold weather finally behind us, let’s get together on what we hope will be a warm, early summer evening and see the wonderful progress we’ve made at the Maze, which looks beautiful after all the hard work the gardeners did last week. To mark the occasion, the Southside Community Gardens project will be hosting a potluck dinner, with music provided by local performing artist DJ Arm 18. Please bring a dish to share, or a non-alcoholic beverage. We hope to have similar events at the Maze on First Fridays throughout the summer; please come out and help us make the first one a great success, as we try to make the Maze Garden a central gathering space for Southside Community Gardens events and activities throughout the summer and fall. Here is a flier with more details.

I also want to share a story that connects many of the ideas and possibilities discussed here for building a thriving local food community in the Lehigh Valley. In previous posts, I have mentioned the farm-to-table movement, as well as efforts to revitalize local agriculture in Appalachia; here is a story, from a wonderful blog called Farm to Table, about a city deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville, N.C., with an active, successful farm-to-table community and a number of prosperous family-owned farms. The story focuses on the work of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), and it touches on several of the diverse components many group members envision as part of our project—bringing local food into schools, incorporating food literacy into the curriculum, and making fresh food available at food banks or through other welfare programs. The article also brings to mind the important work of and resources provided by the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local, and suggests ways we could work with them. Take a second to read the story, and to explore the Farm to Table site.

Power in Community: How a Local Food Movement Changed a City

Finally, there is a work day scheduled for the Maze Garden this Sunday, May 30, beginning around 1 p.m. We will be building on the great start we got last week, and welcome anyone who wants to spend some of their Sunday afternoon working in the garden. There is plenty of work to do, so please stop by.

We can always be reached at <southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com>.