CCE adds raised bed gardens in project to benefit the public

Photos by Ginny Kropf: (Left) Katie Oakes, left, Horticulture educator at Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Robert Batt, director, oversee the filling of container gardens for a new program that has been established to help people grow their own healthy food. (Right) Rahema Quddus, Jason Stearns and Devon Heveron, all employees of Takeform, volunteered on Friday for Orleans County United Way’s Day of Caring. They are shown here filling containers with wood chips for new container gardens at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 May 2024 at 1:09 pm

‘We want people to know growing their own food is possible, no matter where they live.’

KNOWLESVILLE – A new program being developed by Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension on the 4-H Fairgrounds is intended to show people it is simple to grow their own healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables at home.

Cooperative Extension’s director Robert Batt came up with the idea and got approval for a New York State SNAP Ed Program Community Growers’ grant.

He secured white plastic barrels donated by Mayer Brothers in Barker, which were cut in half to form container gardens for the Horticulture to Health Program, a project of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Working in conjunction with the Master Gardeners and other volunteers, Batt and Katie Oakes, horticulture educator, have been filling the barrels with wood chips, topsoil and llama manure.

The barrels will be planted with a variety of seeds and plants, including berries, potatoes, asparagus, herbs, garlic, beets, carrots, greens, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and peppers, and more.

“We want to show people in those simple raised gardens they can grow healthy, nutritious food at home,” Batt said.

Peter Beach deposits a load of mulch to the pile, which was used to fill container gardens, which will be used at the fairgrounds and sent home with participants of their nutrition classes.

Thirty barrels will stay at the fairgrounds, where they will be placed on the lawn near the Trolley Building, along with a row of raised garden beds created by the Master Gardeners, called the Veggie Variety Trail. Theme of the trail is “Cultural Roots of Eastern Europe.”

“When we harvest what we are going to grow here, we will weigh it and donate it to a food program, such as the OK Kitchen in Albion, or our Cooperative Extension food distribution,” Batt said.

Batt said 20 more barrels will go to community partners in each of four towns and the Community Action store.

“We are looking for partners in Medina, Lyndonville and Kendall to take a barrel,” Batt said. “Anyone interested can call me at (585) 798-4265, Ext. 130.”

Anyone who participated in nutrition classes led by Marie Gabalski will receive a three-gallon raised container garden.

“We want people to know growing their own food is possible, no matter where they live,” Batt said. “We hope they will continue year after year. The whole point is to show how easy it is and anyone can do it.”

At the fairgrounds, Batt said they are going to plant what is easy to grow and productive.

Oakes has always wanted to plant peanuts and they will try them in one of the gardens.

“If you have a shelf full of canned food and a pandemic comes along or a blizzard when you can’t get to the store, you are not going to starve,” Batt said.

The barrels containing perennials will be moved under the pavilion for the winter and then rolled back out in the spring.

These raised garden beds form Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Veggie Variety Trail along the lawn south of the Trolley Building at the 4-H Fairgrounds. They were created by the Master Gardeners.