Local Food and Sustainability Organizations Launch Long Island Community Gardens Website

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Website is a resource for new, start-up, and established community gardens.

Long Island, NY - March 4, 2014 - In partnership with Stony Brook University Family Medicine’s Community Roots Project and the Suffolk County Food Policy Council, Sustainable Long Island and Stony Brook University Family Medicine’s Dietetic Interns have developed a Long Island Community Gardens website, which will serve as an online-hub focused upon starting, maintaining, and successfully running a local community garden. Launched live today at www.longislandcommunitygardens.org, the comprehensive website will also serve as an educational resource on the benefits, concerns, types, and locations of community gardens across Long Island.
 
“Community gardens are a fantastic way to promote healthy eating, build community awareness, and to educate adults and children alike about agricultural and environmental stewardship,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This website provides our citizens with the information and tools they require to seed and grow community gardens across Long Island.”
 
“This newly launched website will be an invaluable resource to anyone seeking to learn more about community gardens,” said Erin Thoresen, Senior Program Coordinator at Sustainable Long Island and Chair of the Suffolk County Food Policy Council’s Food Equity Subcommittee. “Not only will it provide information on how to create and maintain your own garden, but it will offer ideas on expanding access to healthy, affordable food options. In creating this resource, our hope is that it will inspire the public to get outdoors more and improve their physical health by taking part in related activities, such as digging, building, planting, and more.”
 
The website was implemented after the three collaborating organizations (Sustainable Long Island, Stony Brook University Community Roots Project, and the Suffolk County Food Policy Council) identified the need for online resources dedicated strictly to local Community Gardens. After research and the actual building of two community gardens in Long Beach and Freeport, it became a top priority to develop a central hub where streamlined information on community gardens was made readily available. Four Dietetic interns worked in Sustainable Long Island’s offices over the course of four months to develop the website. Now completed, additional interns will continue to update and maintain the website, blog, and email inbox.
 
“Members of the Suffolk County Food Policy Council are committed to the creation of community gardens because they foster the kind of healthy eating habits and agricultural awareness that improve lives in communities of all stripes,” said the Chair of the Suffolk County Food Policy Council, August Ruckdeschel, Farmlands Administrator in the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning. “I would specifically like to thank the teams at Sustainable Long Island and the Department of Family Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine for building a comprehensive community gardens website we can all be proud of.”
 
“By providing nutrition and garden expertise to our Nassau and Suffolk community gardens, these organizations have laid the foundation for the establishment of a Long Island community garden association and created a venue for communication, education, and resource sharing among local gardens,” said Iman Marghoob, the community gardens’ coordinator at Stony Brook Medicine. “The website has already received much praise from local community garden managers.”
 
The Long Island Community Gardens website supports the missions and goals of its three collaborating organizations. By encouraging the development of self-sustaining community gardens, the website aims to increase public access to healthy food, promote local and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, and improve overall public health. The website was also made possible in part by a Bank of America grant awarded to Sustainable Long Island.
 
By definition, a community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. Visitors to www.longislandcommunitygardens.org will learn why a community garden is so much more. Community gardens bring people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities together to establish something beautiful and beneficial to everyone involved. Each individual plays a role in making the garden successful.  Not only do gardens increase access to fresh food and nature, they also beautify neighborhoods, raise property value, and reduce neighborhood crime. Local community gardens provide Long Islanders with the opportunity to learn, grow, and live together.
 
About Sustainable Long Island
Sustainable Long Island is a nonprofit organization advancing sustainability through community revitalization, brownfield redevelopment, and food access initiatives. Sustainable Long Island connects public and private resources and expertise with communities that need them the most while promoting economic development, environmental health, and social equity. Sustainable Long Island is located at 399 Conklin Street, Suite 202, Farmingdale, NY 11735. For further information, call (516)-873-0230, visit www.sustainableli.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Stony Brook University Community Roots Project
The Stony Brook University Community Roots Project is a New York State Department of Health grant program that provided financial, educational, and social support to nine community gardens across Suffolk County. Project goals include helping community gardens grow and become sustainable; increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially among families in underserved communities; increasing physical activity; creating a safe, welcoming environment for communities; and making organic produce available to all. Read about the project on their blog, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
 
Suffolk County Food Policy Council
The Suffolk County Food Policy Council was established in 2011. The Council is comprised of 16 members representing the County Executive and the Departments of Health, Economic Development & Planning, and Social Services, along with representatives of food retailers, processors and distributors, local food workers, community based groups, and advocates for food equity. The Council meets six times per year and works on a variety of policy initiatives and programs to strengthen the County's food system.
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