by Jess Szabo, Arts Writer
Wherever we are in our careers right now, most local artists have struggled at some point. Even if you’ve always been successful, you have friends in the local arts scene that struggle to make ends meet. And it’s no secret that those with limited financial resources often face difficulties getting fresh, healthy food to eat.
Local musician and businesswoman Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, owner of Phoenix Media and the non-profit organization For the Good, Inc. has been working to address this issue for her fellow artists and anyone else in need since 2008, when she began operating the Linwood Place Community Garden. The garden has produced thousands of pounds of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables so far.
In seasons past, local residents have been able to work with the garden manager to work on the community plot, or arrange to have individual plots in the garden. The fruits and vegetables produced are then enjoyed by those who participate free of charge. The garden has also made numerous generous donations to local food banks and soup kitchens.
During the seasons when gardens do not produce fruits and vegetables, the garden has served as the site for community education. The Linwood Place Community Garden serves as the host for countless workshops and presentations about nutrition, organic gardening, and other topics many local residents would not otherwise we able to afford to study.
The Linwood Place Community Garden further serves as a site for community connection and unity. Youth groups, college students, and other groups have spent countless hours gathered in the garden volunteering their time and talent, gaining and strengthening skills, and forming friendships.
And every artist knows a garden is a great place to sit back, relax, and work on that next draft of a novel, song, poem, or other project. Often, the simple change of scene provided by an afternoon spent helping out, attending a workshop,or just spending time in the garden can enhance our creativity and focus.
But without our help, all of this may be gone. In February 2020, the County of Oneida sold the garden at Linwood Place at auction. The land was purchased by a private individual. This was done without notice or right of refusal. On September 2, 2020, the deeds to the lots were transferred to the buyer.
While the land may still be there, this sale means that the dedication to community support and improvement that has always driven everything done at the garden over the years will be gone. The only way to preserve the garden as the local treasure that is has been for so long is to build a legal defense fund. This fund will be used to sue all parties connected to the transfer of the property.
Now is the time to show our support for the local garden that has supported so many community members over the years. As we return to paid gigs, consider donating the proceeds of a single show to save the garden. If you’ve returned to the studio or to your writing desk, consider setting aside a portion of the money you earn from the sale of your next album, novel, or other work to donate. Those focused on working their steady side jobs or day jobs right now might wish to make the community garden fund the recipient of their planned holiday donation. Any amount will be greatly appreciated, by both the staff and volunteers of For the Good, Inc and all those who hope to participate in all the garden traditionally offers in the coming years.
Because For the Good Inc.is a registered nonprofit, your donation should be tax deductible. And you never know…the idea for your next poem, song, novel, painting, or other work of art just might come to you during an afternoon spent weeding, planting, harvesting, or even attending a workshop at the Linwood Place Community Garden.
To support this worthy cause that benefits local artists and our friends, family, and neighbors, click on the link below to donate: