Community Gardens at the Dutch Reformed Church

Community Gardens at the Dutch Reformed Church

On Sunday, July 15, 2012, the Newburgh Preservation Association (NPA) will plant the seeds of its new summer-long effort, “Harvesting History: The Community Gardens at the Dutch Reformed Church.”  The goal of “Harvesting History” is to raise awareness of the group’s preservation activities at the historic landmark while setting aside a portion of its grounds for a series of community gardens that will yield organic, locally-grown vegetables to help sustain and nourish the City of Newburgh’s poor and hungry.  The planting event will run from 1:30-5:30 p.m. in front of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), located at 132 Grand Street, just north of the Newburgh Free Library, and will include a display of church artifacts as well as brief remarks by NPA’S leaders, non-profit partners and government officials.  All are welcome to attend, learn about and help transform these historic church grounds into a self-sustaining community garden at the heart of Newburgh’s public square.

Conceived by NPA, “Harvesting History” reflects the joint efforts of a number of local government and non-profit organizations.  The City of Newburgh, which owns the DRC, surveyed the property.  Chad Wade, a landscape architect with Orange County Planning, designed the garden plan.  Once in motion, PathStone, a not-for-profit regional community development and human service organization overseeing a number of sustainable farm projects in Newburgh, assisted NPA in planning and implementing the garden beds.  The Greater Newburgh Partnership then donated the funds to build a protective wooden fence while the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union donated the moneys for a bench.  Going forward, the community gardens at the DRC will be tended by volunteers from St. Patrick’s Church in Newburgh, and NPA will donate whatever foods are grown on the property to the church’s thriving food pantry and soup kitchen.

“I can’t imagine a better or more productive use of these historic and too-long forgotten grounds,” said NPA Vice President and Dutch Reformed Church Restoration Committee Chairman Giovanni Palladino, a Newburgh native and architect.  “NPA.’s long-term goal is to restore A.J. Davis’s Church to its original glory as the Newburgh Lyceum at the DRC.  This extends the idea of a civic center outdoors and will help feed countless residents of our city.  We’re grateful for the support of so many volunteers and local partners.  Not only will the vegetables we grow be local, the entire effort will be.  What better symbolizes the revitalization of this architectural treasure than a community garden?”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with NPA. on ‘Harvesting History,’” said Allan Atzrott, Chair of the Greater Newburgh Partnership.  “Our goal is to instill pride in those who call the City of Newburgh home.  With these community gardens, we will do just that while taking care of those in the greatest need.”

“Gardens aren’t just for the country, they are vital in urban areas as well,” said Pathstone-Newburgh Executive Director Madeline Fletcher.  “We are committed to fostering sustainable farming practices in the City of Newburgh, and with ‘Harvesting History,’ we will not only help train people to grow their own food but to beautify one of their most sacred treasures.  That’s sustainability at its best.”

The Dutch Reformed Church is an outstanding Greek Revival building designed in 1835 by world-renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis.  The monumental structure borrows proportions, siting and details from classical Greek precedents. Intended as a symbol of the community’s enlightened taste, it commands a dominant view over the Hudson.  The DRC is “the greatest surviving ecclesiastical commission of America’s greatest architect of the era” according to J. Winthrop Aldrich, former New York Deputy Commissioner of Historic Preservation.  In 2001, the United States government designated it a National Historic Landmark.

The Newburgh Preservation Association ((NPA) an all-volunteer organization founded in 1978, is the only local nonprofit exclusively committed to rebuilding, preserving and promoting the architectural heritage and historic viewsheds of the City of Newburgh.  In 2010, NPA helped facilitate the sale of the 1914 West Shore Train Station to Ray Yannone of Storm King Builders, and earlier this year, NPA announced its plans to re-launch Alexander Jackson Davis’s historic 1835 American Reformed Church as The Newburgh Lyceum at the Dutch Reformed Church, part of a broader effort by the group to stabilize, restore and rededicate the landmark building as the heart of Newburgh’s public square.

The Greater Newburgh Partnership is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization of business leaders and community stakeholders dedicated to transforming the City of Newburgh into a thriving community that is safe, secure, and desirable. The Partnership aligns goals with others in the community to instill pride in where they live, take ownership of their neighborhoods, and attract new residents, students and professionals.

Begun in 1969, PathStone is a private, not-for-profit regional community development and human service organization providing services to farmworkers, low-income families and economically depressed communities throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico.  PathStone has successfully operated a wide array of programs funded by federal, state, local, faith-based and private sources.

For more information on “Harvesting History,” including how to sponsor a plot or volunteer, please contact info@preservenewburgh.org or call (845) 562-8076.

To support NPA’s mission, including contributing to The Newburgh Lyceum at the Dutch Reformed Church, please visit http://www.preservenewburgh.org/.