ILION – Thanks to a group of Ilion residents, rallied by Amanda Norton, the village may soon boast a community garden. Living within village limits, not everyone who wants a vegetable garden has the room for their own. Norton, a gardening enthusiast herself, seeks to offer such people a solution.
“I want to create a green space, open to everyone, that the whole community can enjoy, be it by actively participating in the gardening or being able to walk through and rest on a bench in it,” Norton said.
With the blessing of the village board, Norton will host a casual meet-and-greet session at Moose River Coffee, on Otsego Street, April 14, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“It’s going to be a very casual affair,” she said. “I have a little presentation board I’ll set up and I want people to feel free to ask questions and offer their ideas. I want to gauge the interest in the community.”
Norton, a 2001 Ilion High School Graduate, has been working toward a community garden for about a year.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to see in the village for a while,” she commented. “And I figured if I don’t do it, who else will? I had an epiphany moment. I thought, ‘A year from now, I’ll wish I had started this now.’ So I’m taking the bull by the horns and running with it.”
The toughest part, she said, has been drumming up interest.
“It’s been hard getting people to participate in the conversation,” she said, adding that starting a Facebook page has helped. “I’ve been trying to get people motivated and its working. The page has more than 100 members now.”
Another major item on the agenda is finding the right location. Village board members have suggested lots recently emptied thanks to the flood buyout program, Norton said. Primarily, she is considering a vacant lot on the corner of Second and John streets, and another on Columbia Parkway.
As for how exactly the garden will work, Norton is hoping to figure that out with the help of those interested in taking part.
“It could be a shared crop set up, where everyone works throughout the garden and shares in the bounty,” she said. “Or there could be assigned plots within the garden, even rented plots. And some have suggested a perma-plant set up with fruit trees and bushes, creating a food forest.”
Norton has been inspired in her quest by the community garden program in the Albany area known as Capital Roots. Capital Roots is a sort-of umbrella organization that supports and assists multiple neighborhood gardens scattered around the capital region.
“I want to see Ilion as a dot on the map when it comes to being progressive and having public gardens,” Norton said, adding that she and her family recently bought a house in the village and are happy to be raising their kids in Ilion. “I think this will be a really great thing for the community.”