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Demand for community gardens growing

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Syracuse Grows
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The organization that supports community gardens in the city of Syracuse is growing, particularly in the city's immigrant community. Syracuse Grows is going into it's sixth year with an eye on the Northside.

As the growing season looms in central New York, a lot on Lodi Street will become a place immigrants and other residents of that Northside neighborhood will  be able to grow food. Syracuse Grows, a grassroots group that supports community gardens in the city, will establish the Roots Community Garden there this spring.

Board member Evan Weissman says the new  garden will be across the street from an existing garden. He says there is a big demand for gardening space among the immigrant communities on the Northside.

"What we have on the Northside are a number of newly settled refugees who come from an agrarian background often. Maybe they're far separated from that because they've been caught for a dozen years or so in refugee camps, so they're not coming from farms in Somalia to Syracuse. But they do have agrarian backgrounds and they do have an interest in growing food familiar with their cultural food ways," he said.

Weissman says there is more demand than there are gardens in this part of the city, and one of the challenges is that some of the land for gardens is toxic.

"We have elevated levels of lead and arsenic," he said. "And so we are constantly having to develop resources into developing healthy soil so that our kids and families are growing food in a healthy way."

Weissman says they get around that by growing food in raised beds.

Syracuse Grows will also be holding their annual spring resource drive in April to collect compost and manure that'll be used in the new garden, and 14 others the organization supports.
 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.