FORT DRUM, NY (April 22, 2021) — The tulips in front of the Historic LeRay Mansion Natural Resources and Cultural Center sign are in bloom, with their red and yellow petals serving as a vibrant reminder of what the Fort Drum community has helped accomplish only a few years ago.
It was on the first Beautify LeRay Day in 2018 that a large group of volunteers planted the tulips, along with dozens of flower beds, trees and bird feeders.
Although the inaugural event was made possible through a National Public Lands Day grant, Fort Drum’s Environmental Division Cultural and Natural Resources teams continued their efforts to beautify, the restoration and resilience of these historic lands.
Community members are invited to participate in new gardening opportunities at LeRay Mansion, starting with the 3rd Annual Beautify LeRay Day from 1-4 p.m. on April 24.
Heather Wagner, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Environment Division, said the events will not only serve to educate people, but also instill community pride.
“The hope is that we can have a garden day once a month, which would be like a garden and learn type program,” she said. “During the pandemic, many people have turned to gardening to relax and spend time outdoors.”
She said the gardens gave people a sense of accomplishment and food security as they started growing fruits and vegetables to reduce trips to market.
“So we had a lot of questions from families who are unfamiliar with our frigid northern area of the country and who bought seeds and plants too early,” she said. “Usually in this area it’s a hard and fast rule to plant around Memorial’s Day.”
Wagner said Saturday’s main project will be clearing the gardens of weeds and fall foliage, clearing debris along the timber line, and re-strapping and preparing raised beds.
“A lot of what we do this weekend will be preparation for future gardening activities,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to talk about why we’re not planting anything at the moment, but that now is the perfect time to do all the prep work.”
The next gardening event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on May 22, where attendees can learn how to grow a vegetable garden, in addition to planting annuals.
“I have something for people of all ages,” Wagner said. “If families come with young children, I have pots where they can plant beans to take with them. If it grows and they bring it back to me, we can plant it in one of our gardens.
Wearing a mask and social distancing will be required during these events. Wagner said that if community members are not comfortable participating in a group activity but still want to contribute to an outdoor gardening project, arrangements for a garden segment can be taken by contacting [email protected]
“It’s a chance to do some gardening if you don’t have the space or ability to do it at home right now, or want to learn more about it,” she said. . “Or if you’re like me, you just want to be outside and get your hands a little dirty.”
To learn more about the Cultural Resources Program at LeRay Mansion, visit https://www.facebook.com/FortDrumCulturalResources/.