Four years ago, those driving past the American flag truck on County Route 48 might have spotted the Rev. Roger Joslin working with volunteers in what, at the time, was just “a pile of dirt.”
The dirt pile has now become a fully developed community garden, Common Ground Gardens, with the slogan “raising vegetables and giving them away.”
“It was inspired by the observation that here on the North Fork, there are many farmworkers working in vineyards, and there’s a lot of really fantastic farm stands [and many who] work out in those fields can’t afford those farm stands,” said the Rev. Joslin of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greenport and Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck. “The injustice of having people who work in the fields to not be able to afford the benefits of their labor, seemed very wrong to us, so we decided we would address it in whatever way we could.”
It began as a church project with “the vision of inviting in the whole community,” the Rev. Joslin said.
The 50-by-100 foot garden plot, donated by Treiber Farms, now has 26 garden beds and various local organizations grow vegetables to donate to the community.
“The idea is if you adopt a bed, then you take responsibility for it,” the Rev. Joslin said. “You do the planting, you do the weeding, but maybe not all the harvesting.”
The Rev. Joslin said that some of the harvesting is left to volunteers who might not want the commitment of tending a garden bed, but still would like to help with the garden. Volunteers are assigned different days of the week to arrive and harvest the product, he said.
A lot of their produce goes to Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation in Southold. They also donate to Centro Franciscano in Riverhead, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. According to the Rev. Joslin, some of the produce also goes to the small pantries outside of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck.
“Other places kind of pop up from time to time, but principally those are our distribution sites,” he said.
Although the size of their donations aren’t weighed, the Rev. Joslin said the amount is substantial. The garden produces a wide variety of vegetables, like tomatoes, kale, peppers, broccoli, sorrel and more. Some of the garden beds are even used for growing flowers.
The garden has grown so much they also receive donations from local business owners.
“Every year, we get vegetables donated by Marion Gardens [in East Marion],” the Rev. Joslin said. “We get at least $1,000 worth of seedlings from Marion Gardens.”
This community garden is there to remind North Forkers that we are all one, the Rev. Joslin said.
“We have so much in abundance here, we are blessed to live in this place,” he said. “We depend a lot on the immigrant community, and people who have less than we do, and everything that we can do beyond providing food, housing is a big issue, to support them because they’re very much a part of the community. They may be new here, but they’re vital to our own wellbeing, we all need to find ways of recognizing that we are all one on this little North Fork.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Rev. Joslin by email or call 631-298-4277.
This article originally appeared in The Suffolk Times and is by Melissa Azofeifa. It is republished with permission.