By Mary Liz Mulligan, Director, Bronxville Giving Garden
Jun. 17, 2020: We all have our own off-the-wall sagas about the twists and turns we have navigated during the past three months. The Bronxville Giving Garden (BGG) is no exception.
When the pandemic stormed the world in early spring, Bronxville Giving Garden's Farmer Dave Phillips, who plays the bass in Book of Mormon, headed out to California to be with his wife, a Broadway performer, who was tending to her Mom.
Broadway was shuttered along with all non-essential businesses throughout the rest of the world. Dave contacted me when it became evident that nothing would be 'normal' for months and said he was staying in CA at least through the summer.
I told him I totally understood, and he had my blessing (not that he needed it!). I then asked him if he could please find me a farmer to manage the Bronxville Giving Garden since that 'specialty' is not in my wheelhouse! Panic set in for me. Dave, being Dave, resolved the issue with lightning speed.
Enter Farmer Vin Spadafora.
Vin is no stranger to the Bronxville Giving Garden. He shadowed Dave last season to learn more about his new passion - - gardens, in particular, giving gardens!
This passion is second to his wife and two young boys, who Vin is homeschooling during this crisis. Vin has been a lifesaver and is a total workhorse. Vin, Dr. Manu, and Meredith, all Pelham residents, have managed to get the Bronxville Giving Garden cleaned up. They repaired busted pipes, secured starter plants, seeds, and compost, and purchased a couple of needed tools. The Bronxville Giving Garden is now planted to capacity! Impressive and also right on schedule.
That is the feel-good part of the story of the BGG this year. The serious part is that the pandemic has severely compounded the need to help those experiencing food insecurity. What has been an extremely serious situation for years, is now gaining worldwide attention and, finally, worldwide action. Our next-door neighbors in Tuckahoe and Mount Vernon are no exception. We have needy neighbors directly over the borderlines of Bronxville.
This is the most important season we have experienced, and thankfully, we have our caring crew to help us continue our support of our neighbors. We donate every vegetable harvested to ECAP in Tuckahoe for their twice a week food pantry and to the CSA in Mount Vernon. The CSA is not currently in normal operating mode because it is a gathering center. It will open as soon as allowed and will have safety protocols in place.
We usually send out an annual solicitation letter to residents every summer. This year, we are not because we don't feel it is appropriate. We, of course, always welcome any and all donations!
Anyone can sign up for email notifications on our web site (bronxvillegivinggarden.org) and can also receive Vin's spanking new blog! Any donation checks should be issued to Village of Bronxville with BGG noted on the memo and mailed to BGG, PO Box 404, Bronxville, NY 10708.
The Community Fund of Bronxville, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe has just awarded the BGG a grant. We are most grateful. I don't know how many organizations would be able to remain viable if it weren't for the steady support of the Community Fund.
The BGG has several key individuals and organizations to acknowledge this season:
Farmers Vin, Dr. Mau, and Meredith – our heroes
Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin for her endless support
Village of Bronxville DPW for their helping hands and smiling faces
Jim Palmer, Bronxville Village Administrator, for putting up with me
The Community Fund of B-E-T for awarding us a grant
Nicki Piercy Coddington, Big Dog Design for creating & maintaining the BGG web site
Peter McCartt, Dir. of Energy Conservation & Sustainability, Westchester County for the personal donation of a composter & communication County information
The BGG operates under the umbrella of the Bronxville Green Committee(BGC). Several members of the BGC are volunteers at the BGG. During my decade-plus as BGC Chair, I befriended Peter McCartt, who now is working for Westchester County. Peter has been and is currently Chair of the Town of Eastchester Environmental Committee. He has many more notches of years in that position than I did! We have had many conversations about varied Green incentives over the years.
I am delighted to share with you that the County is creating a new program called Planting Westchester. This program will help with awareness of the food insecurities, heat islands, soil health, tree population, vegetation by Waterways, community gardens, climate change, and health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable populations. The County is vested in promoting many Green initiatives, which are certainly sorely needed.
Sadly, at this time, we cannot welcome volunteers or stroll-by visitors inside the BGG due to the COVID-19. When circumstances improve, and we can un-pause, we hope to resume tutorial hands-on 'classes' with local school groups of all ages and welcome our many volunteers back into the Garden.
Please do take a stroll to the BGG and check out the progress. It is very peaceful and inspiring there, which I never thought I would say, considering it is located on the corner of Pondfield Road and Gramatan Avenue! Nature is a wonder!
In the meantime, please visit our web site (bronxvillegivinggarden.org) for tidbits of information, pictures and check out Vin's spanking-new blog! Sign up for emails. Join the team!
Pictured (left to right): Kiri Wolfe, The Community Fund, President, Farmer Vin Spadafora, Mayor Mary Marvin, Peter McCartt, Westchester County, Mary Liz Mulligan, BGG Director
Photo courtesy Bronxville Giving Garden
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.