At the Kelly Street Garden, we do four things:
1. Grow Food
We help feed people fresh, health food–often for free. With 11 garden beds giving us approximately 1,200 square feet of growing space, we harvested over 350 pounds of fresh produce from June through September 2014. All produce is distributed for free to Kelly Street residents or used at our bimonthly cooking workshop, Chef in the Kitchen.
We also help people learn to grow their own fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs through weekly garden open hours, drawing neighborhood volunteers who nurture the crops and take care of the garden, and through free workshops to share gardening best practices (examples: Build Your Own Sub-Irrigated Planter and Low-Hoops for Winter Growing).
2. Grow Community
Art in the Garden
What happens when neighbors create art together? Transformation. At the Kelly Street Garden, we’re using art not only to beautify our neighborhood, but also to to start the conversation on what kind of community we want to be. From June to September 2014, we:
- Built 7 tree guards on our block
- Painted 3 murals in the garden (one by a Kelly St. resident)
- Led children through painting workshops to create garden signs as well as placards for the People’s Climate March
- Partnered with The Laundromat Project’s Create Change Fellows to host Field Day, a day dedicated to celebrating and empowering our community through visual and performance art. The them–Grow Love–asked residents what they’d like to grow on our block. Learn about their inspiring answers here.
The Kelly Street Garden hosted numerous community planning meetings, fundraisers, and events to celebrate and continually build community cohesion. We’re proud of our:
- Bake sales that raised over $300
- Summer block party that drew over 100 people
- Halloween/Día de los Muertos celebration that drew over 80 Kelly Street residents
3. Grow Wellness
Chef in the Kitchen
A free, bimonthly healthy cooking workshop led by residents, for residents (and visitors, too), Chef in the Kitchen cultivates reciprocal learning/teaching. Workshops feature fresh produce from the garden, and both adults and kids get their hands dirty by preparing the meal together. Attendees also get related nutritional information. From June to October 2014, 56 people (49 of them residents of Kelly Street) shared 117 meals at 11 Chef in the Kitchen workshops.
Move Your Body
Women from Kelly Street get together weekly to practice yoga and body movement using free online resources and yoga mat donations from Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, Upper West Side Yoga & Wellness, and Jade Yoga.
4. Grow Leaders
The Kelly Street Garden Committee (KSGC) is a core group of six women of color who live on the Kelly Street block and are deeply committed to the well being of their families and the surrounding Longwood-Hunts Point community. Though the KSGC has bold visions for what the garden can become, they recognize areas where they can build on their collective skills and knowledge to sustain the garden’s success over time, relying less on the garden coordinator and support organizations and more on homegrown leaders.
Since coalescing in June 2014, the KSGC has worked closely with the garden coordinator and local organizing groups to identify and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to (i) have a healthy harvest and (ii) develop, organize, implement, fundraise for, and report on community events at the Kelly Street Garden that serve the neighborhood. Capacity-building activities include:
- Attending on-site and off-site training workshops on group structure and self-governance
- Soliciting training from external providers on garden maintenance and operations (e.g. procedures to measure the garden’s output and impact; grant writing and other fundraising skills, etc.)
- Gradually assuming greater leadership on selecting, planning, and executing events to foster greater community cohesion (e.g. block parties, holiday celebrations, bake sales, etc.)
- Organizing outreach efforts to increase participation at garden events