Bissel Gardens: More Than A Community Garden

Bissel Glen-Russ

Bissel Gardens is a two acre community garden and four-block public path in the Wakefield section of the Bronx bringing people together, beautifying the neighborhood, creating safe outdoor space, offering community gardening and growing food for donation.

The founders, Theresa Scalera and Russell Le Count, “rescued” the property, owned by the  MTA, after the area along the fence line of train yard had become a  frequent dumping ground and subsequently a neighborhood eyesore. By planting the property with trees, shrubs and community gardeners, the area became an oasis of busy planters, playing children and summer strollers.

The Bissel Gardens Farmers Market operates from July 1 through mid-November giving neighborhood residents an opportunity to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from New York State farmers. Heather Warren-Dombrowa, Farmers Market Operator, feels very strongly about supporting both urban agriculture and the small farmers of New York State. Bissel offers cooking demonstrations and accepts Health Bucks and EBT cards helping local residents meet their fresh food needs within their budgets.

Bissel Propagation grows native plants that attract butterflies and other pollinators and host an annual Native Plant Giveaway to help gardeners establish their own Butterfly gardens.  This year, Bissel Propagation launches the Sunflower and Butterfly Park Project with Chuck Vasser, Community Green to encourage community gardeners to grow sunflowers and create small areas filled with native plants that will attract butterflies to their gardens.

Bissel Propagation also grows vegetables from seed for the Bissel Food for Others Garden. In turn, some of the food is sold at the Bissel Farmers Market but most of the produce harvested from the FFO is donated to soup kitchens and shelters. Steve Ritz, Bronx Green Machine, manages the FFO area and his student volunteers are always hard at work growing food for the less fortunate.

The Bissel Children’s Garden, honoring founder, Marie Teresa Scalera, is devoted to young gardeners and offers environmental and educational programs.

Bissel Gardens was the first community garden established in the northeast Bronx and will be proud to have served the community for 20 years in 2014.

You can get more information on Bissel Gardens at:

communitygreen.wordpress.com

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