In the heart of Hempstead, Mary Crosson's mission to nourish both bodies and minds through her community garden has borne fruit, quite literally, this summer.
Crosson is the commissioner of Ligia’s Garden of Hope — a community garden located at Kennedy Park in Hempstead, and she is on a mission to grow natural food and feed the community and has been doing so all summer long.
With unwavering dedication, she has not only provided fresh, pesticide-free produce to her community for over 9 years, but has also shared valuable lessons about the transformative power of organic, homegrown food. “The best food for you is the food you grow yourself,” says Crosson
“I want to teach, to help people to be able to help themselves, I also teach culture and I also let people know the what the benefits are when you eat organic food.” said Crosson, “there's ways that we can help ourselves, when you start changing your food diet, you'll be surprised what can happen.”
She stresses the difference in health benefits and overall quality when comparing fruits and vegetables you purchase from the supermarket versus homegrown. “You're not getting food that's been sprayed with all types of pesticides or fertilizer or whatever chemical they decide to put in there”
Although the garden has fed more than 300 people in the community this summer, according to Crosson, this was the first large scale harvest of the year. This was due to the expansion of the garden, a donation by current mayor of the Village of Hempstead, Waylyn Hobbs.
It may have taken some time, the expansion was well worth the wait — more than doubling the size of the original garden. The community garden was originally donated in 2011 by the Village mayor at the time, Wayne Hall, in memory of Ligia Estrada — the garden’s original commissioner and caretaker.
This year’s harvest hosted by New York Communities for Change, or NYCC, an activism group that according to their website, is “dedicated to uniting neighbors in the fight for safe and healthy communities,” brought together the community for an afternoon featuring free food and drinks, music, gardening education, and best of all, an all you can eat, free-for-all, where attendees were able to take whatever they please from the garden in celebration of the end of these plants growing season.
If you’re interested in volunteering with Ligia’s Garden of Hope, or looking to get fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, you can reach out Mary Crosson directly at 516-660-1471, or meet her at the garden located at Kennedy Park, 335 Greenwich St, Hempstead, NY 11550, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.