Over 200 years ago the Dodge brothers farmed this peninsula. One brother lived near Hempstead Harbor, north of the county park, but his house has been replaced. Thomas Dodge, the other brother, owned the Dodge House, acquired and restored by the Cow Neck Historical Society. It still stands just east of Mill Pond, which borders Shore Road.
Doug and Patti Wood, Rosemarie Konatich and Whole Foods Market volunteers taking a break from gardening work.
Grassroots Environmental Education now farms a piece of the Dodge property with the help of many community members. Patti Wood, founder and director of Grassroots, said one of the purposes of the vegetable plot was, "to bring a small working farm back to Port Washington after so many years, using as many of the seed varieties that were actually grown in the 1700s as we can find."
At the end of March volunteers were hard at work pulling up old stakes and collecting fallen leaves for the compost pile. Then they turned over the vegetable beds, adding compost, and soon they will be planting seeds: lettuce, cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips, radish, Swiss chard, spinach, and arugula. With the exception of arugula, heirloom varieties of all the vegetables will be planted using seeds bought from Landis Valley Museum in Pennsylvania. Another seller is Seeds of Change. Toward the end of May the volunteers will plant tomatoes, green beans, hot and green peppers, basil and three different varieties of corn. "We had great cabbages last year, but not enough," reported Doug Wood, associate director of Grassroots.
The garden supplies nutritious organic vegetables to approximately 65 families in Our Lady of Fatima's food distribution program, administered by Sister Cathy. They also sell the basil at the farmers market at the town dock.
While supplying food to many families the garden teaches the community and school kids about sustainable agriculture. High school students volunteer during the summer at the garden, giving them an opportunity to fulfill community service obligations while learning valuable life skills. Other volunteers come from Whole Foods Market. From Tom DiNapoli's staff, Rosemarie Konatich, an environmental analyst for the legislature, shovel in hand, worked one late March morning. Two local landscapers helped; Bonavitacola did the rototilling and Bayles supplied the fence. The PW Water Pollution Control District was responsible for installing the fence. The Cow Neck Historical Society allowed their property to be farmed. Tom DiNapoli supplied funding for tools, seeds and plants. The money came through Assemblyman DiNapoli from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Another purpose of the garden is "to bring together many different people from all ethnicities to do something positive and life enriching," said Patti Wood. With this in mind Patti Wood is helping two other organizations, Parent Resource Center and Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, jointly start an organic community garden on the Landmark property bordering Webster Road. Anyone interested in more information should contact Grassroots-www.grassrootsinfo.org, Parent Resource Center- firstname.lastname@example.org or Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington- email@example.com.