Schenectady Urban Farms sees growing interest in community gardening

“It’s a really good time for people to start thinking about having some kind of their own sustainable food,” said Schenectady Urban Farms member Ellie Pepper.

Pepper said this will be her third summer with the community farm, and she said being part of a community garden during the pandemic has been good both mentally and physically.

“It’s really good to get your hands in the dirt, but it’s also really good, I feel like I’m doing something that’s going to help,” Pepper said. “There is such a lack of control in this pandemic.”

With grocery shelves empty and a growing number of families struggling to access fresh produce, Melissa MacKinnon, director of Schenectady Urban Farms, said gardening is getting more and more interesting.

“Food comes from afar and transport systems break down. So regional and local food systems are so important,” MacKinnon said.

To join Schenectady Urban Farms, it costs $25 and you have to work there for two hours a week. Everyone grows and shares the harvest together, but it has been different in this pandemic time. They only allow people to be individually in the garden, but encourage people to try gardening at home until everyone can garden together again.

“This year we’re growing more vegetable crops,” MacKinnon said. “We have five-gallon buckets that we’ll be offering in about two weeks for people who want to try growing at home. We’ll also have plants if they can get any in the ground.”

Schenectady Urban Farms, formerly known as Vale Urban Farm, owns 1.3 acres of urban farm around the town of Schenectady. They offer gardening tips on their Facebook page and if people want to know more about the community garden, they can email [email protected]