Dirty Hands, a Harbinger of Spring; Get Started with a Community Garden

The heck with manicures — dirty hands are the surest sign that spring and garden-fresh vegetables are in the offing. To that point, we would like to share some information that will help get your hands dirty, too.

hands holding soil dirt with sprout

Winter weary Long Islanders can breathe a collective sigh of relief as spring is finally upon us. In spite of the few flakes that fell today, the hints are there: intrepid daffodils and snowdrops are poking through the thawing soil, forsythia buds are beginning to swell and robins have returned. Yes, spring is within reach and so are my gardening tools. The heck with manicures — dirty hands are the surest sign that spring and garden-fresh vegetables are in the offing. To that point, we would like to share some information that will help get your hands dirty, too.

Does your community have a community garden? LongIslandCommunityGardens.org is a newly launched website that will not only help you find a garden in your neighborhood (there are currently 39 on Long Island), but will assist interested parties in breaking ground on new projects, as well as address issues from soil prep through harvest. A collaboration between Sustainable Long Island, Stony Brook University Community Roots Project and the Suffolk County Food Policy Council, the website is a valuable resource to help bring communities together while providing access to fresh food.

The Long Island Community Agriculture Network is hosting two two-hour organic vegetable gardening workshops (with identical content) at St. Hugh of Lincoln Learning Center (1450 New York Avenue in Huntington Station) on Wednesday March 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. and again on Saturday March 29 from 10 a.m. to noon. The presenters will be Lawrence Foglia and Heather Forest, co-founders with Frances Whittelsey of LICAN, which manages Gateway Park Community Garden in Huntington Station. Foglia and Forest are also the proprietors of Fox Hollow Farm in South Huntington where they run a 90-member CSA. They will share what they have learned about growing high-quality organic vegetables in quantity. A $10 donation is requested to help cover the cost of the workshop. Please RSVP for either the March 19 or March 29 workshop.

On Saturday April 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Farmingdale State College’s Department of Urban Horticulture and Design is hosting Waste Not Want Not, its fourth educational field day in support of its sustainable garden. The event will feature speakers including Vincent Simeone, the director of Planting Fields Arboretum, garden tours, vendors and local food. In addition, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will also be a CSA fair with representatives from many CSAs on the island still accepting memberships for the 2014 season.

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Betsy Davidson is the editor at large of Edible Long Island.