Mercy Home For Children
Plant Grow Give
In 1862, the Sisters of Mercy sheltered five boys orphaned by fire in Clinton Hill Brooklyn and a tradition was born. Over the intervening years, the populations we serve have changed, but the core mission of providing persons in need with respect, education and love has remained. In 1976, in response to the changing needs of the community, Mercy Home joined forces with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (formerly OMRDD) to continue its growing mission to children with disabilities. The children we served have grown into adulthood and have moved to agency operated group homes that meet their mature needs. For 150 years, Mercy Home has nurtured persons in need. Today, we support persons with developmental disabilities in living full and interesting lives. We do this in our residential, supportive and respite programs located throughout Brooklyn and Queens, each of which emphasizes the importance of being part of the communities in which one lives.
The Mercy Home “Plant-Grow-Give” program is about people with developmental disabilities utilizing their skills and resources to plant vegetable gardens in their own backyards, collect the harvest, and then donate that food to underserved families in their community living in shelters or frequenting food pantries for their meals. What makes our program so unique and worthy of support is that the people doing the planting, growing, and giving are disabled adults who have historically been at the receiving end of donations. Plant-Grow-Give provides an opportunity for people who have historically struggled to find access to their social worlds to explore their environments, build friendships with neighbors and be more fully integrated into their communities. This is an opportunity for the residents of Mercy Home to show their gratitude, generosity, and humanity to the people in their community who are in need as well as develop real vocational skills and learn about urban farming and organic gardening. In the past year, Plant-Grow-Give has established three gardens, one in Greenpoint Brooklyn, one in Boerum Hill Brooklyn and one in Rosedale Queens. From these three locations, the Mercy Home family has been fortunate enough to provide fresh organic produce to hundreds of hidden, hungry people and to develop lasting bonds of friendship with neighbors who have had few opportunities in the past to benefit from the exceptional natures of our residents.
Mercy Home For Children
Plant Grow Give
Partnership With Myrtle Village Green:
The staff and residents are very excited about the establishment of a community green space at the Myrtle Village Green location, particularly those program participants who receive services at our main office complex at 273 Willoughby Avenue, and the residents of Josephs Residence around the corner on Taaffe Place. Many of the concerns that led other community members to seek a new space are shared by the individuals living and working at Mercy Home, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to join with our neighbors in support of Myrtle Village Green. We are especially enthused by the opportunity to use what we have learned through our Plant-Grow-Give program to help Myrtle Village Green become the most useful resource for the community of Clinton Hill that it can be. Ultimately, we are interested in establishing a permanent organic garden space at Myrtle Village Green in the Spring of 2013 as a way to help feed those members of the community who are hungry or otherwise in need as well as provide educational opportunities for the neighborhood in general. In the short term, for the Fall and Winter of 2012, the Plant-Grow-Give staff have come up with two separate but complimentary proposals.
Proposal #1, Radishes:
With the holiday season approaching, Plant-Grow-Give would like to take the opportunity to do something festive for our program participants, the people we feed and the general community. To that end, we would like to request space from Myrtle Village Green to construct our specially designed accessible raised garden beds in which to plant radishes. Each bed will measure approximately 2’x 4‘ and we are seeking to build a total of 6 beds dependent on community approval. All of the materials, soil and labor to construct the raised beds can be provided by Plant-Grow-Give, although donations by community members or Myrtle Village Green will not be turned away. In the beds we will plant fast growing radishes and hope to be able to harvest a significant crop before the weather prohibits further growth. After harvest, the crop will be taken to kitchens at our residences where the individuals who live there will learn about preservation and create colorful and delicious jars of pickled radishes. Depending on the size of the harvest, approximately 40% of these jars will be reserved to be distributed by our individuals to their friends at the shelters and pantries we have been feeding this year as holiday gifts, while the remainder will be given for free to community members at an event at Myrtle Village Green in November. Each jar will have an attached brochure containing a recipe for pickled radish and information about Plant-Grow-Give and the Myrtle Village Green. As with the construction of the beds, all labor and materials required to grow, harvest and pickle the radishes will be provided by Plant-Grow-Give and our urban farmers living at Josephs Residence.
Mercy Home For Children
Plant Grow Give
or participating in our Day-Habilitation or Saturday Respite Programs and Mercy Home Staff, although donations of time and materials from community members will not be turned away.
The immediate benefit we hope to provide to Myrtle Village Green is further beautification of the space, but in addition we hope that the distribution of the pickles in the winter can help raise awareness of Myrtle Village Green as well as introduce Plant-Grow-Give to the neighborhood. The investment we are asking for from Myrtle Village Green is the space to build the beds.
Proposal # 2, Temporary Hoop House:
Plant-Grow-Give is seeking a location to build a temporary passively heated greenhouse in order to extend our growing season into the winter. We believe that Myrtle Village Green is an ideal location for this project due to the proximity to the willing group of laborers at our Josephs Residence. We have selected a hoop house kit that is unobtrusive and temporary and that we believe meets the requirements set by DEP about the usage of the space. The dimensions of the hoop house are 10’ x 12’ with a center height of 7’ 6” and the kit we will be ordering can be viewed at http://growerssolution.com/page/GS/PROD/hobbygreenhouse. Pending community approval we hope to have the hoop house delivered and constructed by our staff in a one or two week time frame. We will provide the materials and labor necessary for construction and maintenance. After construction, the hoop house can be easily disassembled and moved to one of our residences in the spring if the community decides on a different use of the space, or can be left standing for future Plant-Grow-Give projects. When construction is completed, Plant-Grow-Give will identify organizations in the area around Myrtle Village Green who feed people in need in the neighborhood near the space that might be able to make use of the produce grown in the space. Plant-Grow-Give will provide the Myrtle Village Green steering committee with a list of potential beneficiaries and the community will be invited to provide input in the selection process. As with all Plant-Grow-Give projects, there will be a goal of using 90% of the harvest to feed the hidden hungry in the surrounding community with the remaining 10% being used to feed our residents or for special events. Crops to be planted in the fall in raised beds will include a variety of fast growing winter and fall vegetables, primarily different types of greens. The actual planting, growing and harvesting will be completed by Mercy Home staff, residents and volunteers, but the hoop house will be made accessible for Myrtle Village Green to use for community and educational events, and our neighbors will be invited to visit the greenhouse whenever the Green is open. Growing and harvesting will continue as long as the external temperature permits. The benefits to the community will be further greening of the space, a productive garden used to feed the hungry in our neighborhood and an interior green location that can be visited for a time after the frost. The primary investment Plant-Grow-Give is asking for from Myrtle Village Green is the space to build the hoop house.