Capital District Community Gardens Expansion

From the desk of Albany John:

The Capital District Community Gardens has long provided agricultural and

nutritional resources to our area, delivering more than 333 tons of fresh produce

in the past year alone. This past week the CDCG celebrated the opening of a 2.5

million dollar project (in the first phase alone) at 594 River Street in Troy designed

to quadruple their capacity to provide access to local farmers and consumers.

The community presence and overwhelming support of the local government and

business leaders for the project shows the importance of this project to Albany,

Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga counties as well as farmers from 10 local counties.

I was introduced to the CDCG by their mobile produce project, which strives to

deliver produce to under-served communities. The cities of our region are full of

neighborhoods with little to no access to fresh produce, and the CDCG helps to

reduce the impact of poor nutrition by delivering produce along routes with the

“Veggie Mobile” a truck selling fruits and vegetables. They also have a smaller

“sprout” vehicle, and have introduced sales space in local convenience stores.

Where most convenience stores stock highly processed, high calorie food with long

shelf lives – local produce is now available through the healthy convenience store

initiative. I planted a community garden in Troy (one of nearly 50 in the region) and

the support of the staff was amazing – with seeds, education, and seedlings available

at very low cost.

 

The Urban Grow Center has transformed a 100 year old former light industrial

building into a warehousing and office space. The staff and volunteers transformed

the first floor (once crowded by safety equipment and pipes) into a space where

they will be able to not only stock and distribute much more produce to the area

but also act as an incubator for local businesses. The grow center will feature a

commercial kitchen for nutrition education and food based micro-enterprises. The

project will also include an acre of greenhouses for year round urban agriculture

programming. Green technology will be a major factor, with a “green roof”, solar

power, water reuse and porous pavement reducing over 300,000 estimated gallons

of runoff.

Political support from the communities that the CDCG serves was incredible, with

mayors from Albany, Troy, and Schenectady speaking about their experience with

the CDCG and praising the project and pledging their support in the years to come.

Assemblyman John McDonald III, and Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy The

business community stood behind the project as well, not only with their words, but

with their wallets. E. Stewart Jones, (co-chair of the grow center campaign with his

wife Kimberly Sanger Jones) SEFCU, First Niagara, and MVP Health Care pledged

their support with SEFCU promising a contribution of $500,000 towards the first

phase of the project. They still need our support, and charitable contributors are

needed at all levels. The grand opening presentation ended with the CDCG interns

demonstrating with produce the level of funding the project has already received

(more than 50%), and how much more contributions they have to raise for the first

phase of the project.

Food ties our communities together. That’s one thing I know for sure, and farmers

and consumers in urban areas are often separated by more than distance. The CDCG

has demonstrated its commitment to fighting poor nutrition from farm to table. The

growth of the CDCG also means opportunity for farmers to open up to under-served

markets, and for at-risk youth and adults to receive job training and education

about how food matters, how it reaches the table, and the importance of small scale,

local healthy farming. The program is a model I hope is replicated in urban centers

worldwide, mindful of the needs of consumers and farmers, implementing green

technology.

For more information on this exciting venture, contact Amy Klein, executive

director of the CDCG amy@cdgc.org or (518) 274-8685

1 comment
  1. I’ve been involved with CDCG for nearly five years and currently sit on the Board of Directors. The press conference was amazing. Thanks for covering this momentous event.

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