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Curran House residents are growing their community

Each week, about twelve residents from TNDC’s Curran House volunteer their time working in the rooftop garden. This group works together, sharing the responsibilities of watering, pruning, and harvesting a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. While Curran House has always had planter boxes for resident families to grow herbs, flowers and plants, in May of 2012, TNDC’s Garden Expansion Project launched a renovation of the rooftop garden and installed twelve more planter boxes, and an irrigation system. We also invested in new edible plants, soil and tools. The Expansion Project was led by resident volunteers like Fred Dejamco and Janet Chevalier who work weekly in the garden.

Fred has lived at Curran House with his wife and their son for a little over a year. Before working with TNDC, he did not know anything about gardening. Fred helped with the new planter boxes and learned how to install plumbing and drainage systems for rooftops. Now he is a Food Nutrition Resident leader. Each night he visits the garden, often with his son. Together, they check on the condition of the plants, making sure they have enough water and are safe from pests. When harvest time comes around, they pick the fresh vegetables and help distribute them to residents.

Fred says, “I enjoy sharing this with my son. When I started, I did not know anything about gardening, but now I can teach my son.”

Janet has lived at Curran House for five years. She remembers the old planter boxes with their flowers, rose bushes and orange trees. She likes the addition of the vegetable garden boxes because they give her an opportunity to grow her own food and to get to know other residents. It is truly a community effort. Janet is in charge of watering two days a week. In exchange for her time, she gets to share in the results of the harvest.

Since May, Janet has helped cultivate collard greens, parsley, peas, arugula, onions, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, cilantro, and rosemary. Janet says she can taste the difference between the veggies she buys at the store and the ones she grows for herself. “It’s fun to see it grow, and they taste so good. They are so beneficial for us that we want to grow more. We are going to plant each season.” When asked what her favorite recipe was, Janet says “Just steamed veggies with a little butter and salt to let the fresh taste come through.”

Since the expansion, the new planter boxes have produced more than 116 pounds of fresh vegetables for residents. The edible garden has also given residents an opportunity to produce their own food and to give back to their community by growing food for other residents.

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