Several vacant lots in the city are now home to community gardens.
The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, in conjunction with the Chautauqua Health Network's Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play, created three demonstration community gardens in the city.
According to Pete Lombardi, JRC director of neighborhood initiatives, the JRC is interested in demonstrating how to reuse the numerous vacant lots in the city.
Several vacant lots in Jamestown are now home to community gardens, which were created by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play.
"As homes burn down or are demolished, more vacant lots will open up. So we want to have some models in place for how to reuse this land productively," he said.
The Health Network, Lombardi said, is interested from a public health standpoint, to encourage vegetable gardening as a way to get people physically active and encourage healthy eating.
"This project is a nice nexus of neighborhood revitalization and public health," he added.
The gardens are all located on vacant lots where the homes were either burnt down or demolished. One is at the corner of Lakeview Avenue and Sixth Street, one is at the corner of Washington and Eight streets and one is at the corner of Chandler and Allen streets.
"We purposely selected fairly high visibility locations in the city, so that we could leverage their visibility to invest in landscaping and beautification of those sites to help beautify those neighborhoods," said Lombardi.
The three gardens combined have a total of 42 raised beds, featuring clean topsoil 1-foot-deep that gardeners can grow vegetables, flowers or whatever they desire. Students of BOCES assisted the project by building the raised beds.
Gardeners can lease a full 12-by-4-foot bed for $10, or lease half a bed for $5 to for the entire season. According to Lombardi, almost all of the beds are filled right now.
"A lot of the people who have signed up are interested in the idea of a shared public space to do their gardening in a way that they can engage with other gardeners to beautify the neighborhoods that the gardens are in," he said.
While most people who have claimed lots live by the garden sites, and want to grow vegetables, some of the gardens are also being used for other purposes. The First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown's Children's Place Early Care and Education Program also claimed a lot to use as an educational summer activity for its students, and a catering company is using one to grow herbs.
"We're pretty happy with how it's going right now. Almost all the beds are leased and it's a nice range of gardeners," said Lombardi. "There hasn't been any vandalism, and people seem to be really respecting what's going on in these gardens."
The JRC will also be working closely with the city to address any issues at a code enforcement level to ensure that the zoning language allows for this project to continue in the future.
"We've been pleased with the interest. We know that there is demand for more of this type of project," he said. "What we really want to do is have a model in place to show people, organizations or groups of property owners, how to go about doing this sort of project.
"We want this to be as decentralized as possible. I don't think it would be possible to have a single organization, like the JRC, taking it on to develop a dozen community gardens. But instead, (we want) to have a model in place, so that as opportunities arise, people know what process to go through. Our number one goal is to make a replicable model and a streamlined process for future community garden projects."
Anyone who is interested in leasing a gardening space should call Peter Lombardi at 338-9889.