Elmhurst Community Garden:
The Young Governors started the Elmhurst Community Garden after they found a parking lot in Kneeland Av and Manilla St. that had been left vacated for years. They decided to call the owner, asking permission to create a community garden in the lot. After the owner gave them a green thumbs up, the beautification of the once "eyesore of Elmhurst" began.
Their goals are to equip the Elmhurst community with space to organically grow fruits and veggies, to have families and friends work collaboratively to enhance the community, and to educate youth and adults about the benefits of sustainable living and gardening. And with the help of the newly formed Young Volunteers, they dug, cleared, built, researched, and pulled weeds under the extreme heat. They planted simple crops, such as tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and pepper.
When the harvesting period is over, the fun and awarding part begins: harvesting all the hard work and efforts that are put into nurturing the plants. Where did these freshly picked delicious plants go? Do the Young Governors and Young Volunteers chomp everything? All of it are actually donated to the Food Pantry at New Life CDC. In doing so, they believed they would be both helping out the local pantry at New Life and the people of the community.
Moreover, a greenhouse was built in the garden by Young Governors and Young Volunteers, with the help of New Life Building Manager, George Cuffe. It was made so that planting in the winter would be available.
Beautification Events were also held to further clean up and expand the garden. In these events, Young Governors recruited volunteers to plant beds, flower centers, a rock path leading to the greenhouse, a fence at the front, a seating area composed of cut up wood blocks and logs, and space to plant some trees were made. One major step up was giving out planting beds to people in the community so they can grow their own plants. This way, the Young Governors feel it is more of a community-involved thing, and that’s what really mattered most.
Since this is an on-going project, they are always working to expand, beautify till this day the plants can be harvested for donation to the food pantry. The Young Governors hope this garden stands out as an important piece of the Elmhurst community and grants all the people in the community happiness and unity.
Last year, The Young Governors have decided to take a step in transforming an empty lot on Manila St and Kneeland Ave into a community garden for the residents that are living in Elmhurst. Since then they have been taking care of it as well and donated to the food pantry at New Life CDC. In addition, to taking care of the community garden the Young Governors also wanted to come up with ways in order to improve the community and make it into a better and safer environment for everyone to live in. The Young Governors had used all the information they have gathered from the community have decided to split the process into different projects where everyone was assigned as a project manager. The projects that the Young Governors came up were the Community Clean-Up,Community Lot Clean up, Sandy relief clothing drive, Thanksgiving Dinner, and the Greenhouse Project. The main goals of these projects was to spread awareness and help each individual live healthier and grow stronger as a person because everyone living in Elmhurst we consider "Family".
2011 is the year the Young Governors program launched.
Park clean up
With our very first community needs assessment the result we got was that Dirtyness was a major issue in Elmhurst. So the first project that we conducted was a park clean up at Moore Homestead park (Broadway). This project involved many volunteers that were children who were present at the park along with teens and adults. The idea behind this project was to keep the community clean by having people care for their community. We went through the park with garbage bags, gloves, and other tools and began to clean the park with our army of kid volunteers. At the end we gave out snacks to the kids as a way to thank them for their hard work and showed them what a difference they had made in the park. The highlight for us with this clean up was that the kids who are always playing in this park now knew that it was their responsibility to keep it clean and saw what a difference they can make even at their young age.
What started as a small seed lead to what is today a tree that bears good fruit.
We had began to help out a neighbor clear their back yard and start a garden.That’s when we had the dream of spreading gardens in each backyard of Elmhurst. This dream eventually became a reality with the start of our Community Garden. We had heard about a vacant lot that was filled with trash through Redd Sevilla,our executive director. He gave us the idea to use the land as a garden. We then contacted the owner who graciously allowed us to use his land and gave us the green thumb to go ahead. So we gathered some wonderful volunteers and began to make this vision come alive. Since then the garden has been a baby that YG is raising.
Continuing with the issue of the year dirtiness, we decided to do another project. This time we organized a community cleanup. Our goal was to allow the people to see that cleaning up is their responsibility and that everyone needs to contribute to maintain a clean environment. We wanted people to see that we are not cleaning up for them but letting them know that it is their job to do so. We contacted many local business and advertised our event and talked to them about how they can help keep elmhurst clean. In this community clean up we went through the Elmhurst community and ended at the Moore Homestead Park (Broadway). We had over 25 teen volunteers from the local community all coming together to be the change they want to see. At the end of this cleanup we had over 20 garbage bags filled and were featured on NY1 news to share with the world our message. As a plus at the end we got to get down and party at with members of the community at the park.
Clothing DriveWhen had seen the need in people for winter clothing in our community we decided we need to do something about it. We decorated boxes and created them for local businesses to keep and allow for any clothing donations such as gloves, scarves, coats & jackets. We went around and spoke to local businesses about how they can partner with us to help the community. At the end we had over 100 pieces of clothing that we gave out to those in need. We gave out some to the clothing pantry at New Life Community Development and some to the Adult Care Center. Sharing with many of those in need during the winter time some warmth.