Community garden to open in May


Recorder News Staff

A neighborhood community garden will soon be making its way to the city of Amsterdam.

On Thursday, about a dozen people met in the Creative Connections Arts Center on East Main Street to discuss the possibility of bringing the garden to the empty plot of land behind the center.

Barbara Neznek, a local herbalist, along with Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, brought some light to the idea that evening, and those in attendance seemed to be into the idea.

Neznek read to the group a reflection she had written on what the community garden could be for the neighborhood.

"Originally, I mentioned to Ann (Thane) that I would like a little place at the Art's Center to put in some herbs and maybe get kids interested in the healing properties of plants. This would be something I could manage on my own," she read. "But then the idea came, what if you could get parents and community members involved, then it would be getting adults working on healthy projects and maybe they would work with their children and everybody would reap the benefits."

On Friday, Neznek stood in the already cleared plot of land, drawing a vision of what the garden could become.

"My big thing was getting people involved," she explained.

And she's already succeeded in getting some from the younger generation to join her team of recruiters to spread the word about the idea.

Dianeoit Vazquez, a 15-year-old who lives right in the area of the garden, was elated at the idea.

"It's a pretty nice thing to do that could involve a lot of people," she said, envisioning her own family having a plot where they could grow tomatoes, maybe fruits, and anything else they would like. "And it's going to be beautiful to look at."

Vazquez said she thinks her neighborhood community will definitely want to be involved and will be helping Neznek hand out some flyers with a friend during the week to spread the word.

The garden will be approximately 40 by 70 feet, with each lot being either 5-by-5 or 4-by-7 feet.

Each will be measured out using twine and stakes, and the whole garden will be fenced in.

Plots will be free and it will be on a first-come-first-serve basis as far as who will get them.

And local organizations even want to have plots and be involved, like the Mental Health Association and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

Neznek said she would like to get CCE Master Gardeners involved for classes and "weekly teas" where plot members will come to the arts center to share tips, talk about the garden, and even share produce and recipes.

"We want this to be a real community thing," she said. "We've lost community in our country and with this, and the labyrinth, we're trying to put that back."

Down the line, once the garden is established, there is a vision for a tool shed for community gardening tools and a bulletin board where people can share what they have surplus of with the neighborhood.

The garden is likely to open at the end of May.

"We'd really like to see this as a great community place."

A meeting will be held on May 8 at 6 p.m. at the art's center for anyone interested in having a plot.

For more information, Neznek said residents can visit the "Amsterdam Labyrinth and Community Garden" Facebook page or email her at