Kelly Renn, a Queens Mama contributor, recently interviewed Emily Compton, an Astoria resident and Core Gardener at the Two Coves Community Garden. Read the interview to learn about Two Coves, and how Astoria families can become involved.
K: Tell me about Two Coves Community Garden.
Emily: Two Coves is a volunteer run community garden on city owned land. There are a little over 100 plots designated to specific gardeners, who grow their own produce, which they can take home or give away.
K: Can you give me a little information about the history of Two Coves?
Emily: According to local residents, we know this used to be a playground in the 1960’s and 70’s, but by the 1980s it was a rundown eyesore, due to garbage and misuse. Eventually the city decided to clean it up, and by the late 1990s Councilman Peter Vallone and the Parks Department organized an area cleanup of trash and replaced the urban soil with farm soil. The city paved the paths and put up a fence. The rest was up to the community.
K: What is the difference between a CSA and the Community Garden?
Emily: Stacey Ornstein (President of Astoria CSA) is a member of Two Coves, and we are close friends. There is so much overlap between the CSA and the community garden community. However, CSA produce is farm produce; community gardening is a different kind of project. I think community gardening is about the process rather than the product, but that’s not the case for all gardeners. Many of gardeners grow a number of different types of vegetables and they do care about the product. Some of our gardeners grow one thing, such as tomatillos or hot peppers.
K: What is your experience as a mother and a gardener with Two Coves? Can you talk about your son’s involvement and what that means for you as a family?
Emily: I was pregnant the second summer that I was involved with the garden. So he’s [Atticus] been coming to the garden since before he was born. Now he asks to go to the garden. He’ll garden with me in the Community Plot. He likes to dig. He finds worms, and sometimes he will plant seeds.
It’s also a time for him to be social with other kids. I let him run free in the garden. He knows to stay out of people’s gardens, and he knows not to take produce.
Emily: How to enjoy outdoor space with the freedom to explore and to strike up relationships with people who are not like him. I want him to learn all of those things that make for a talented naturalist. Observing natural processes; understanding that there are different kinds of things such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, insects. You plant a seed and six weeks later you come back and there are vegetables growing there. In our world that has to be pointed out to kids who don’t see that. And that is something that is available in this space for families who come on a regular basis. The true enrichment comes from seeing the processes happening.
K: As a member of the community, the garden, and as a mom what are your wishes for the garden?
Emily: I want to see more space allocated to gardens. In Queens there are fewer community gardens than in a number of other boroughs. I’m most interested in this garden as a place where folks who don’t have very much in common or even have trouble communicating can come together over gardening. We have two or three events each summer that are open to the public..
Thank you to Emily Compton.
Open to the public from 4/1-11/1 on Saturday & Sunday during daylight hours
Location: 8th st., Astoria Blvd and 30th Ave/Main Ave
For more information on Two Coves Community Garden community plot and upcoming events visit their website or just drop by for a visit during open hours.
To find a community garden in Queens, visit http://www.grownyc.org/openspace/gardens/qns.