Tomorrow, October 16 is World Food Day a day chosen to draw attention to hunger needs and food insecurity across the globe.
The Salvation Army in Binghamton is tilling the soil in their corner of the world so that next spring, Binghamton’s North Side residents will be able to grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables.
On one of the last summer-like days this month, volunteers came together to build a community garden in a neighborhood that has been designated as a “food desert.” The term, created by the US Department of Agriculture, means in certain census tracts, usually in low income areas, there is a lack of grocery stores and farmer’s markets.
Members of The Salvation Army Advisory Board, neighborhood residents, volunteers from VINES (Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments) and Union Center Christian Church came together to build 14 raised garden beds and prepare the beds with top soil, compost and wood chips for planting next spring.
With a $2,500 donation from the Binghamton Noon Rotary Club and donated lumber from Lowe’s, the garden was built on a vacant lot that The Salvation Army hopes will soon be home to a new Salvation Army Community Center. The location is the former State Bowling Alley at 530-532 State Street.
The gardens will enable area residents to reduce their food bill by growing their own fresh produce without preservatives and giving them access to fresh food, since the nearest grocery store is over a mile away. Major Ron Heimbrock notes “researchers have found that urban gardeners eat more fruit and vegetables and gardening reduces stress and increases a person’s sense of wellbeing. Kids are more interested in eating vegetables that they helped to grow.” The Salvation Army Community Garden will be a VINES affiliated garden.
Amelia LoDolce, United Way Health Initiatives Manager and a VINES board member, said “growing your own food gets your kids interested in eating veggies, and gardeners will have fresh, amazing produce during the growing season,” she added. VINES operates seven community gardens in the Binghamton area.