By: NCC News Reporter Jocelyn Ehnstrom
Syracuse, NY – The White House garden planted by First Lady Michelle Obama has put community gardens in the national spotlight for their economic and nutritional value. In Syracuse's Southside, two local women started a community garden ten years ago for different reasons: self-healing and as a way to reach out to young people.
Mabel Wilson and Mary Marquis planted the West Newell Street Community Garden and soon discovered it helped in ways beyond nutrition and the economy.
Wilson needed the garden to keep her busy as she struggles to stay sober. Wilson is a recovering alcoholic.
Marquis saw the positive effects of the garden early on with the neighborhood children.
“We not just growing vegetables, but people,” said Marquis.
Though a part of its appeal is its location in the inner city, community gardens are in danger of being polluted by their hosts.
Community inner city gardens are at a greater risk than suburban and rural gardens of being tainted with lead.
Wilson and Marquis recently had their soil tested by the Environmental Protection Agency and their garden's toxin amount was well below the level that would make their vegetables harmful.
If you are interested in starting your on community garden, you can contact the New York regional chapter of the EPA to have your soil tested : (212) 637-3000 or on their website at www.epa.gov/region02/