A Garden that Feeds the Soul

Posted on 09/22/2016 at 12:32 pm

On the first day of fall, we reflect on some highlights of this past summer. Summer 2016 was a special one for residents of Bailey-Holt House, situated on the corner of Christopher Street and the West Side Highway in Greenwich Village. The building is equipped with a spacious rooftop featuring stunning views up and down the Hudson River, and it’s a space that many residents enjoy, especially during the warm summer months. This summer, staff and residents took advantage of the space and collaborated on a rooftop community gardening effort, and the results were spectacular!

“This summer’s garden was the most vibrant and edible in recent history,” said Jeannetta Bushey, Associate Director of the program at Bailey-Holt House. “Everybody is using it. It’s a true community effort.”

Staff and residents worked together on all aspects of the garden, from gathering and creating containers to putting wheels on them so they could be easily moved for watering and weeding. They also learned a lot together through their collaboration. The rooftop is open to the elements and exposed to intense sun and wind; residents and staff had to learn about gardening techniques and plant care in order to create a garden that could withstand the rooftop environment. Adjustments were made along the way to help the garden thrive.

A bonus of creating such a fruitful garden was being able to use the vegetables from the rooftop in the food that’s prepared in the kitchen for residents. “I loved using all the fresh herbs in sauces and soups,” shared Gail, the head cook in the kitchen. “And salads! We made some of the most beautiful and healthy salads using all of the kale, tomatoes, aka shiso, butter lettuce, radishes and peppers. And the residents kept asking for some of the kale for their juicing. I’m looking forward to making fresh pesto with the basil that we’re growing.”

One resident, James, was particularly helpful in the garden. It was his first exposure to hands-on gardening, and as a result of his positive experiences on the Bailey-Holt House rooftop he’s very much looking forward to the next gardening season. James had this to share about his time working in the garden: “Well, I like things that are green. Gardening for me increased socialization, both my own with other residents and for residents among themselves. It’s nice to help Bailey-Holt House be sustainable. It’s satisfying to me, stress reducing and calming. I get to pay it forward and see the results.”

The fruits of labor from the Bailey Holt-House garden included: aka shiso, basil, butter lettuce, clover (to help attract bees!), cucumbers, dill, kale, melons, oregano, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, rosemary, sage, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard, thyme, tomatoes and zucchini.

As summer ends, the Bailey-Holt House gardeners will overwinter those plants that they can inside, some of which will continue to supply the kitchen with fresh produce to use. Urban gardening at its finest.

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