By Janee Law
Tracy Bennett has been going to Gateway Community Garden sale since it started in 2010.
The sale raises funds to support the garden of 127 beds tended to by adults, children and people with physical limitations. The nonprofit’s mission is to maintain a source of healthy, organic food for the town, while raising awareness for the environment and developing farming skills.
“This is a great event and I’ve always been a supporter of the garden,” said Bennett, of Huntington, who purchased tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, kale, greens and garlic. “It’s brought a lot of people with different ethnicities together in the community. It’s a good way to break ice and trade gardening tips. I’m trying to get a bed here so I can join in.”
Although all beds are taken, Gateway board member Irene Moore said that they are always looking for new gardeners and have applications online and at the garden, on the corner of Lowndes Avenue and New York Avenue, in Huntington Station.
Founded by Frances Whittelsey, president of the board of trustees, and Larry Foglia, in 2010, Gateway Garden was established by the Long Island Community Agriculture Network before branching out as a nonprofit in 2014. It is a town park.
“This is the fifth year of the sale, but it’s the first time doing it exclusively as our own 501(c)3,” said Barbara Wildfeir, a board member and a certified gardener.
Sixteen gardeners form the board of trustees. Every year, they organize the sale and maintain their own beds, with help from the Town of Huntington.
“Huntington has been involved in providing gardens for its citizens for a long time,” said Gateway board member Dave Sibek. “This was a derelict piece of property, littered with garbage and drug paraphernalia before we took it over and built this oasis. The town has been unbelievably supportive and we wouldn’t be here without them.”
Some beds are specifically used for donating to local food banks.
“Generally, we donate to Food Not Bombs every Tuesday night,” Wildfeir said. Last year, the garden donated more than 1,000 pounds to the organization. With support from the public, these gardeners can continue their work and community service.
“We want people to know that we’re here because we need their support,” Sibek said. “If the town decides to build a WalMart here, it would be terrible. So to keep something like that from happening, we need community support.”
At Saturday’s event, held on Aug. 15, a variety of different vegetables were sold below supermarket prices, including sun-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, collards, herbs and more.
Among the first-timers was Huntington native Laura Childs, who loves organic and healthy foods. “The event is fantastic,” she said, carrying a bag full of cabbage, kale, beans and collard greens. “The people are really nice and it’s a worthwhile cause to help those in need.”
For more information, visit gatewaygarden.org.