June 22 2019

Learning and Growing

The Garden of Life in New Lebanon is aptly named.

Aside from providing healthy produce to local families, the community garden teaches people valuable living skills.

Most of the garden — 1,700 square feet of it — is run by high school interns. Garden Coordinator Margo Royer-Miller says the young gardeners learn how to grow food and how to cooperate with and teach others about gardening. Garden volunteer crews sometimes include residents from an area juvenile detention center, too, as well as adults who are fulfilling court-ordered service hours.

And everyone who works in the garden, along with New Lebanon residents, gets to enjoy the vegetables of their labor. Last year, the Garden of Life gave away 1,400 pounds of produce to 300 local people.

“It’s a community space that nourishes people in the community in many ways,” Royer-Miller says.

The garden is only in its second season, and it’s been a wet one. Royer-Miller has often had to plant in the rain. But she and her volunteers turn the soil with a fork, not a tiller, so they don’t need to wait for a dry day to work the dirt.

Soon, the garden will be full of everything from kale and collard greens to squash and sweet corn. Herbs and flowers — like basil, coriander, sunflowers and snapdragons — are part of the mix, too.

Royer-Miller says she appreciates the support the garden gets from Five Rivers MetroParks, which provides mulch and seeds — and inspiration at events like the annual Community Garden Coordinators Dinner. And she’s eager to collaborate with other local gardens to learn how to keep the Garden of Life vital.

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