By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Maday Luna absolutely loves the beauty and power of seeds; she now wants to inspire others to benefit from all the magic and hope they provide.
The Newburgh Free Academy North junior Luna was provided that platform three years ago when she joined the Our Core’s AgriCultural Ed. Program. Saturday, at the Newburgh Free Library Courtyard, Luna’s arduous efforts, along with those of several other third-year students, were revealed to the public at the Grand Opening of the Grand Street Garden. The youth redesigned an aging garden, which includes a reading garden, a spot they will manage. Additionally, Luna designed a Seed Catalogue, part of her efforts to spearhead Newburgh’s first Seed Library. The brightly colored, upbeat, creativity designed catalogue with splashes of green, pink and orange hues, sports the insignia “SEEDS” on top as well as a symbolic tree on its side. Luna was assisted in its painting by Newburgh-based community artist, Ed Manner, who reveled in having the opportunity to be a part of this unique creation.
“This project was directed by Luna; I was the artist doing the painting but she had the vision and was directing it,” explained Manner, who loves these types of community projects. “This project had all good stuff-non-profit, youth education and a piece of community art- that people can touch.”
Guests at Saturday’s Opening enjoyed every moment of taking in its carefully planned, potent presence.
“I picked the design to show how the community can come together and show who they really are,” explained Luna, who completed the project in one week, logging 5 hour days.
“I’ve been working with seeds a long time, and I keep learning new things every day; there is just so much to discover.” Luna, interested in holding workshops to educate gardener newcomers, continued, “This Seed Library is an inspiration for others to do what they dream of and aspire to do.”
The public’s interest in gardening was evident throughout the Grand Opening festivities, as many guests could be seen joyfully taking in the day’s offerings. In addition to viewing the new gardens, they had the opportunity to visit booths of Our Core’s partners, including: Land to Learn, Row 7, and The Newburgh Free Library. Here, they could receive a complimentary gardening bag of goodies, select a tomato plant, as well as receive gardening literature for youth, also free of charge.
“This is the City of Newburgh’s First Seed Library, and there has been a surge of interest in gardening, so we are very happy to support the people of Newburgh in growing their own food,” said Sam Adels, Newburgh Program Manager of Land to Learn, whose not-for-profit also runs the teen program with Downing Park through the Urban Farming and Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative.
In addition to Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent, Dr. Roberto Padilla presenting the students with leadership certificates, several local political dignitaries, including NYS Senator James Skoufis and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson were on hand at the Grand Opening. Skoufis remarked how despite being a new father, he would not have missed this event for anything, as it brings so many positives to the community, especially during this time of the year.
Christine Hutchinson oversees the Our Core Program and could not have been prouder of her student’s commitment to their work as well as dedication to, love for, and belief in the potential of their City of Newburgh community.
“This is a point of unification,” said Hutchinson, surveying the new outdoor garden spaces.
“It’s also a starting point for new gardeners and opportunities.”
Another Core AgriCultural student, Rackesha Bailey, who always wanted her own garden, but lacked the proper space, expressed her gratitude for this opportunity.
“So many bad things are said about Newburgh,” said Bailey. “These gardens show all the good that is happening here and why it’s a great place to live.”