Adventures of a Newburgh Urban Gardener


When I first moved to the City of Newburgh in March of 2012, I had dreams of starting a vegetable garden in the back yard of our 176 year old house. The only problem was that I knew and still know nearly nothing about growing vegetables. I therefore kept putting off growing vegetables much in the same way I put off opening the dozens of boxes still in my basement. I’m pretty sure I will never get to those boxes but I am determined to grow vegetables.


So this year I figured it’s time for me to dig! When I saw a posting in Newburgh Restoration for the community garden at The Armory Unity Center, I suddenly had visions of fresh green lettuces and dirty fingernails. I jumped at the chance to not only learn about growing vegetables, but also at the opportunity to become an active member in the Newburgh community.


This Saturday, April 20th, The Newburgh Armory Community Garden will start the community effort by building garden beds and sowing seeds. I will be there with my work gloves on and my children in tow, ready to sweat and get dirty from 9:00am – 1:00pm. The efforts at the garden are volunteer-driven. Garden plot prices are as follows: 4 x 10 @ $20; 4 x 20 @ $25; 10 x 25 @ 40; 20 x 20 @ $50. Children’s garden plots are 4 x 8 and are free for kids in programs at the Armory or 4H, etc. Included in the price of the beds are free seeds, free garden classes, access to tools and advice from Master Gardener Jarna Maniguet. Jarna, who is doing a fellowship from The Cornell University Cooperative Extension Orange County, will oversee The Armory’s efforts in sustainable organic gardening. Along with Jarna is Case Wise who came to the garden with an environmental degree all the way from Washington State for the sole purpose of working at the garden.

The day that I visited, in preparation for April 20th, the land behind The Armory had just been leveled. The plan includes a thoughtful design that I later saw while in the office of Deirdre Glenn, who is one of the organizers of the garden, along with being the president and CEO of The Armory Unity Center. Ms. Glenn has a calm and confident demeanor along with an unassuming passion for not only the garden but for all community efforts in Newburgh. Included in the plans are two compost sights on either end of the garden, communal herb gardens and a water tank with water barrels that Pepsi donated and for which the Fire Department of The City of Newburgh will fill with water as they have done in years past when the garden was located on the side of The Armory. The land has also been tested to ensure that there were no toxins in the ground. There are a number of other community gardens in the city that have been spearheaded by The Newburgh Armory Unity Cent. Those gardens include ones at the Dutch Reformed Church; San Miguel at Lander & Farrington, and La Vida on the corner of Chambers and First.

It was impressive to see the thought, passion and community effort that has gone and continues to go into the creating this wonderful program. I’m looking forward to developing a green thumb and I hope to see a lot of you Newburghers on the 20th . If you would like to reserve your garden plot, you can do so by calling or e-mailing (845 569-0770 x14 or DGLENN@NEWBURGHARMORY.ORG

Photos © Erica Shires

3 Comment

  • Very well written article. I look forward to more from Lizzie M and hope she has a great crop this year 🙂

  • I enjoyed reading this article about Lizzie’s future attempt to grow edible food. I think I will be looking forward to her further articles on how to cook Zucchini in a 100 different ways.

  • Hi Lizzie,
    I’m a member of the garden too. I look forward to meeting you! We had a great group of gardeners last year, and this year promises to be even better (if only we can keep those pesky woodchucks away!) Last year was my first year and I had no idea what I was doing. I learned a lot and am looking forward to putting that knowledge to use. There are lots of great people involved with the garden that will help you in any way they can.
    Good luck and I hope to see you soon!