Tale of Kale and Kindness Grow in a Thriving Community Garden
Rainbows of freshly planted produce is nestled into rows of 4x8 garden beds, tucked inside the Amos and Earley Park Garden.
Located on Cadillac Drive in Providence, dozens of garden boxes have been rented by neighbors to grow fresh fruits and vegetables at the community garden. A sports field, tennis court, walking path, and playground border the park garden. And new outdoor exercise equipment is set to be installed this summer.
Tyrone Shepard lives at Colony House overlooking the garden. For 19 years, he’s worked there as a community garden leader and park ambassador for the Providence Parks Department.
“A lot of people who gave up gardening because of the pandemic are now picking it up again,” said Shepard. “It’s therapy for them and it’s wonderful to see their beautiful faces coming outside and getting exercise.”
The growing surge in gardening is evident. 26 of the 36 garden boxes have already been rented and planted for the season, according to Shepard. Collard greens, green and yellow zucchini, peppers, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes are just some of the plants beginning to take off now.
Because of the scarcity of fresh food in this area, as well as the number of older citizens using the Amos and Earley garden, the Providence Parks Department used a grant to purchase materials for additional garden boxes this year.
“This is an area that’s really vital for food security and many members are not as mobile, we knew having the grant for the raised garden beds would contribute to the success of the community,” said Wendy Nilsson, Superintendent of Providence Department of Parks and Recreation.
There was just one problem, there were 14 garden beds to build and not enough volunteers to build them. That’s when Nilsson reached out to National Grid’s Marisa Albanese, a Community & Customer Manager in Rhode Island for a helping hand.
“When National Grid can pitch in and help our community on such a local level, it is a great example of being there and delivering at the center of the energy-food-urban nexus to our customers,” said Albanese.
The last week in May, eight National Grid employees showed up with their own power tools and a portable generator and got to work. More than six hours of work yielded 14 new garden boxes filled with mulch. A small skid steer helped transport layers of loam, topsoil and mulch.
To accommodate the gardeners using walkers, the paths in the Amos and Earley community garden were widened accordingly. Tyrone Shepard said one of the most passionate gardeners there lives in Colony House and is 90 years old. “We’ve learned so much about the process of growing from her and she’s able to teach different generations, including myself how to make the most of what you have, it’s just wonderful.” Gardeners pay a small fee for each bed and are assigned a spot and given their own key to access the property. Sharing their bounty with others in the neighborhood who don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables is the norm here. And when the growing season winds down, the gardeners take part in a cookout, donating whatever is left in the garden before readying the beds for the next growing season.
“We have a really fantastic community around this park,” said Nilsson. She noted that there’s an early childhood center across the street, senior housing and the Sackett School close by. “We are trying to make this community garden and park a great resource for all those groups and all those families - And having the National Grid volunteers were incredible and the saving grace here.”
About National Grid
National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. National Grid is transforming our electricity and natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As part of our commitment to a clean energy future, National Grid is a Principal Partner for COP26, the UN global climate summit, which will be located in the UK in November 2021.
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