Community Farming Project
When your Summer Camp is also a farm, it can really use your help
Yes, this is the same project that was featured in the Syracuse Post Standard!
For other updates, you can read about all of the people who supported getting the garden off the ground,”, and also the most recent update on how the harvest is going, and who is helping harvest.
When we look around the site at Vanderkamp, we see so much more than just a summer camp and retreat center. The rich history of this property tells a story of a fully functioning farm, replete with magnificent botanical gardens, herds of cattle, and vegetable gardens. Last year, we planted a 25×15 garden with plants donated from our friends at C&J Farms in Constantia. This year, we will be able to expand what we grow to help both our camp and this area.
We wrote grant proposals to a number of places, and the Walmarts of Cicero and East Syracuse have very generously responded and helped us fill our budgetary needs! Now it’s our job to make good on that money and serve both people looking for healthy food around here, and our summer campers. Matthew 25 Farm has offered to give us their leftover seeds, which in combination with the seedlings pledged by C&J Farms, will be a tremendous blessing to us. Vollmer Farms on Collamer Rd. in Syracuse has agreed to grow us some special tomato and pepper plants, and Joe Van Slyke from Rosalind’s Garden Greenhouse has pledged a number of herbal plants – how generous! Carol Watson Greenhouse in Lafayette is also enthusiastic about our project, agreeing to give all sorts of things, from tomatoes, to winter squash, and leafy greens! Our partners at North Riding have also pledged finished manure to fertilize the garden, and have started reaching out to local people in the area to help stir up interest in volunteering!
As of 3/23, Dennis Wiltse has agreed to come and do the initial plowing for us! If you’re from Syracuse, you’ve probably stopped and had Dennis’ incredible blueberries on route 49. We’re thrilled to have such an experienced farmer agree to help us for just the cost of fuel! When you see Dennis this summer, be sure to thank him for us!
We will start by designating 1 acre of land on our property to growing organic food. With the money donated, we will be able to till the area, fence it in, and run an irrigation system to keep the plants well watered throughout the summer.
But that’s only the beginning of the work. We plan to use a network of volunteers to ensure that this garden lives up to its full potential. We plan to run the garden partially as a volunteer-driven CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where helpers can take a share of food for their families for volunteering a certain amount of time each week. We also plan to empower our summer campers to bring food to the food bank at First English Lutheran Church in Syracuse on their way home from camp. We’re going to be working on the garden over Memorial Day Weekend – so anyone who wants to come and spend some time with our summer staff to get this project off the ground – let us know! There’s plenty of work to go around!!
Solving the hunger problem in Central New York is no small task. We’re so encouraged that so many local vendors have agreed to help us – and volunteers are pouring out too! If we work together, we can use the land here for so much more than a summer camp or retreat center – we can make it a place that nourishes bodies as well as minds.
If you have any interest in helping out, whether in building fences, irrigation system, a shed for supplies, helping to weed and harvest, or even give a donation to the project, please contact us via email or call the office at 315-675-3651. We’re hoping to expand this project in the future to be of even bigger service to this area, but we don’t want to over-expand before we know we have the help we need. We’ll be doing our part to make people healthier – will you join us?