Residents of East Hills plan to use the park space at the old Air National Guard station to plant a "Community Victory Garden," a place to grow vegetables and then donate them to Long Island Cares, which in turn will distribute them to various places that need such products.
Carolyn Horowitz, the East Hills resident who has come up with the idea, said that the project is part of an emergency effort to fill the depleted stocks in the soup kitchens and pantries of Long Island.
"Layoffs caused by the recession and the Sept. 11 attacks have led to many more Long Island families asking for food relief as well as a steep drop in donations to food charities," Ms. Horowitz claims.
Ms. Horowitz added that Mayor Michael R. Koblenz has been "kind enough to designate a small portion of land" on the former Air National Guard site for the garden. For now, Ms. Horowitz is asking for help in expertise, materials, service, or donations from local residents. Project leaders are also asking for new or used gardening tools, plants, and planting supplies. No experience in gardening is necessary. Volunteers who need it, will be taught the basics of gardening.
The vegetables, Ms. Horowitz emphasizes, will be pesticide-free. For now, the project leaders are hoping to break ground on the garden by mid-May. The project is an all-volunteer effort and Ms. Horowitz is glad to report that landscaping companies and nurseries have already volunteered their time to assist with the garden. This includes rototilling the land, a job that consists of pulling up weeds from the land space in question.
Ms. Horowitz is also pleased with the support her project has received from Mayor Koblenz and other East Hills officials. She hopes the garden will eventually serve as a pilot program, one to be emulated by other villages and municipalities throughout Nassau County. Deputy Village Clerk Nancy Futeran has been appointed the village liaison for the project.
In addition to help from the local government, Ms. Horowitz added that her fellow residents have expressed their support for the idea, as have numerous local businesses. "Everyone's been enthusiastic," she said.
Ms. Horowitz is currently working with both master gardeners to design and plan the garden and with local businesses to procure donations of supplies, materials, and labor, noted Ms. Futeran in a public letter about the project. Ms. Horowitz will also be contacting local civic groups and schools to put together a team of volunteers for the purpose of maintaining the garden grounds.
"The mayor and the board of trustees...support this pilot garden, as it will present an exciting mix of educational, recreational, and outreach opportunities for our residents," Ms. Futeran stated.
Ms. Futeran also noted that the project will be supported and maintained by volunteers. As such, those that do volunteer "will be given full recognition in publications and press releases about this pilot program."
For her part, Ms. Horowitz reiterates that there truly is a need in Long Island for such food supplies and that whatever the Community Victory Garden can grow will end up in welcome hands.
For further information, interested residents may call Nancy Futeran at the village hall at 621-5600 or Carolyn Horowitz at 484-5189.