Pounds of fresh produce

Community gardens give to those in need

By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Posted 9/2/20

Newburgh is home to a number of different community gardens and farms. The Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) and Newburgh Armory Unity Center’s community garden (NAUC) are having …

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Pounds of fresh produce

Community gardens give to those in need

Posted

Newburgh is home to a number of different community gardens and farms. The Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) and Newburgh Armory Unity Center’s community garden (NAUC) are having successful seasons and are giving back to the community.

NUFFI is behind the Downing Park Urban Farm (DPUF), which has been around since 2015 when the City of Newburgh received a HUD grant.

Virginia Kasinki is the executive director who oversees organizational development and community outreach.

“What they hoped to do is restore the greenhouses that had been up here and used to produce the flowers and shrubs for the park,” said Kasinki. “They were in a big state of disrepair. The City wanted to put them back up and they wanted to have a lot more community involvement.”

However, they decided to make it an urban farm instead.

“While the property was being cleaned off, I went out and spoke to all of the organizations,” said Kasinki.

They partner with 15 different organizations across Newburgh, one of which is NAUC.

In 2018, Kasinki asked the City to take over managing the property. “That’s when we really started to grow,” said Kasinki.

Both NUFFI and NAUC were deemed an essential business and were allowed to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they weren’t allowed to hold their usual programs and groups that would come into the garden.

“We were committed to proceeding with growing,” said Kasinki. “We donated most of the food to local pantries and soup kitchens.”

They made their first donation on June 6, and as of this week they are over 2,600 pounds of donated food to a wide variety of sites in Newburgh. NUFFI plans to donate right through the beginning of November because they “have so much growing and pantries need the food we’re growing.”

Because the Newburgh Armory Community Garden rents out spaces to the community, they do not have as much space to grow their own. Despite this, they still donated around 1,000 pounds of food.

Both organizations plan to keep growing and improving their garden space in the upcoming years.

DPUF currently has a number of raised beds where the greenhouses were and a hoop house that they plan to make bigger next year, which helps extend the season.

They are also coordinating with the City to get garage space for storage as well.

Molly Foley, head farmer, has been behind the development of the Downing Park Urban Farm.

“They had only ever farmed one row last year,” said Foley. “We have new beds and installed an irrigation system, which has enabled us to power up production.”

They are hoping to make other updates in the future like repairing the head house, adding office space for the staff and including somewhere for volunteers to congregate during unexpected weather.

The Downing Park Urban Farm grows everything from tomatoes, peppers, eggplants to broccoli, kale, collards to flowers and fruit trees. They also have a beehive on site.

You can sign up to volunteer at DPUF on their website. Recently, the lease was extended to 2038, allowing for long-term funding opportunities.

The Newburgh Armory Community Garden has been around for six years, and has worked with NUFFI.

“Typically our focus is the kids and education about gardening and nutrition and our environment,” said Newburgh Armory Community Garden director Lisa Rittweger.

The community garden uses different gardening techniques like aquaponics and hydroponics in addition to more traditional gardening.

They also have a greenhouse on site that was donated from a local family last August. They are looking to update their garden with improved beds and an irrigation system.

Recently they have started their classes back up, following COVID-19 safety protocols. If you are interested in a class, volunteering or renting a space in the garden, contact Lisa at lrittweger@newburgharmory.org.

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