The Victory Park Children’s Garden started its second season by doubling in size (now 24’ x 62’) and a variety of new crops were planted, including Brassicas (brussel sprouts and kale), garlic, leeks, baby asparagus, and potatoes. Quansett Nurseries provided the plants again this year, which included cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, corn, herbs, squash, and green beans. Other added features included a blueberry bush and a sitting area.
On May 5, 2013, through a separate grant from the Marion Institute, approximately 50 volunteers came together to plant a small orchard which includes seven apple, three plum, and two cherry trees.
Trips for Kids had another successful summer incorporating the garden into their program. A total of 75 participants in their summer program benefited from weekly exposure to the garden. Each child visited the garden to learn about the crop as well as got involved with the planting, weeding, watering, or harvesting of the vegetables. The Fall Urban Explorers program. consisting of 38 additional participants, continued the work of harvesting fall crops, including rosemary, cherry tomatoes, turnips and radishes.
Earlier this summer, Trips for Kids received a grant to open a kiosk at the garden to highlight the past, present, and future of Victory Park. The “past” includes black and white photos from Spinner Publications of the old Poor Farm with an explanation of the history of the park. The “present” highlights the current garden and orchard. Finally, the “future” illustrates the mission for overall stewardship and expansion of the area as an ecological learning site and the role it plays in the sustainability of the neighborhood and of the City of New Bedford.
Last year, the Victory Park Children’s Garden started in June 2012, but this year the children have been able to participate over a month earlier. This allowed 36 more children from two schools (Roosevelt Middle and Our Sisters’ School) to be involved in the project. Trips for Kids New Bedford estimated over 100 additional children learned from the garden this year.
A major accomplishment of the garden’s 2nd season involved the donation of extra produce to food pantries throughout the city. Any produce that was not consumed or brought home by community members or Trips for Kids participants was delivered to a number of local pantries, totaling roughly 43 lbs of kale, cucumbers, snow peas, and bok choy.
The garden was not only a success in helping to educate our youth about healthy food but also a means to assist with the food insecurity issues of our under served population.