Wanda’s Story

Community Gardens Member Changes Life for Herself and Kids

My family has been active with Greyston’s Community Gardens for about six years. It was my daughter’s curiosity that led to our involvement. We were walking in the neighborhood, and she spotted a lady talking with a group of kids near a garden plot. She wanted to know what was going on, and we asked. So, I have her to thank for some big changes that have happened for my family since then.

Before I started a garden plot of my own, I was a single mom of three young kids struggling to make ends meet. I was overweight and facing the first of three knee surgeries. I had no knowledge about gardening. My grandmother had a green thumb, though, and she used to grow a lot of houseplants. She passed away in the middle of my first planting season. She’s been an inspiration, and I sent a lot of prayers to her for guidance in those early days.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I could grow potatoes in Yonkers! I’ve lived here my whole life and never saw anyone gardening in my neighborhood. I was amazed by my first harvest and just loved digging in the dirt and trying out different techniques. Soon after I moved to a larger plot. Last year I grew about 35 pounds of string beans, 25 pounds of tomatoes, 40 cucumbers and lots of different herbs. I had enough to share with some of the people in my neighborhood I knew were homeless and struggling.

Community Gardens has been incredibly positive for my family and me. It makes our food budget go further, for one thing. Through workshops and learning from others, I now can and freeze produce for winter. I’ve learned a lot of new recipes. A healthier diet allowed me to drop 45 pounds, before my second knee surgery. All the gardeners help each other with tips and tricks they’ve learned, and we share seeds. Having that connection is nice. I’m so glad my kids are learning how to garden. I think every school should have a garden plot. That’s how we’re going to help the environment and turn obesity around.