A Greenhouse Rises In Newhallville

Thomas MacMillan PhotoFor veteran gardeners like Alonzo Bryan, a new neighborhood greenhouse means not just carrots and collards growing through the winter. It means a growing sense of community.

Bryan (pictured), who’s 84, joined a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the community garden he helps run in Newhallville a the corner of Shelton Avenue and Ivy Street. Construction is already underway on a new 15-by-30-foot greenhouse. It’s a joint project of the city’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) and housing non-profit Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS). The city put $10,000 toward the project and NHS came up with $2,000. Walsh Construction is donating the foundation and footings, valued at about $12,000.

Dozens of people turned out for the groundbreaking ceremony, including city officials, aldermen, top cops, schoolchildren, and trainees in the city’s Construction Workforce Initiative program, who will be assembling the greenhouse.

As several speakers observed, the event marked not only the commencement of construction, but the continuation of Newhallville’s recent turnaround efforts. Amid high crime rates and low incomes, people have been working in various ways to improve their neighborhood. These efforts included NHS’s cluster-based approach to redeveloping Newhallville’s housing stock and a boom in the community gardening.

“There are good things going on in Newhallville today!” announced LCI Director Erik Johnson, who emceed Wednesday’s ceremony.

“What’s growing here is more than vegetables. It’s community,” said Mayor John DeStefano (pictured).

The ceremony included a long list of speakers, each thanking more and more people involved in the project.

Gardener Ida Felder (at right in photo) added another thanks to the list. “Thank God,” she said. “This was my hope and my prayer. I asked God to send some people to help me. ... This community garden is a blessing to this neighborhood. I had worried about the whole Newhallville neighborhood going into the ground, but today is the day I see it’s going up.”

Felder, who’s 75, has lived in Newhallville for 55 years and gardened at Shelton and Ivy for 12.

“People always said this was a beautiful space,” she said. “It’s really special now.”

“Who would ever think there’d be a greenhouse in Newhallville?” said gardener Roland Smith. “It’s got to be a plus. People see things happening in the neighborhood.”

“It’ll make the community better just to see that something can be done in Newhallville,” said 63-year-old Burgess.

Burgess said the greenhouse will be yet another way to connect with young people in the neighborhood. He said he often talks in the garden to curious kids who don’t recognize fresh growing vegetables. “They be saying, ‘What is that?’ They don’t know what a tomato is.”

Most of the gardeners are seniors, noted Velma George (pictured), the LCI staffer who spearheaded the greenhouse project. The addition of the new structure is intended to change that. Students from nearby Lincoln Bassett School will work in the greenhouse, along with young people from Solar Youth, said George.

Some of those Lincoln Bassett students were on hand for the ceremony, treating the crowd to a couple of songs: “Lift Every Voice And Sing” and “God Bless America.”

Architect Fernando Pastor, who designed the greenhouse, said the structure will have rain barrels, recycled doors, and a passive solar geothermal heating system for the floor. He said the greenhouse will be fully built in two weeks.

Previous stories about Newhallville’s turnaround efforts:

Banks Begin To Budge
A Lot Of House Envisioned For Little Lots
Brick By Brick, Winchester Vision Takes Shape
Gardeners Prevail; Vacant-Lot Challenge Remains
After Crash, Neighbors Seek Fix For Blind Corner
Newhallville Confronts A Mega-Landlord
Newhallville Bounces Back; House Will Get Built
Levin To Newhallville: “We’ll Be Back”
Newhallville Up For “Historic” Boost
Cops Make Arrest In 83-Year-Old Prof’s Mugging
Harp Probes The Newhallville Conundrum
“Let There Be Light” (Emitting Diodes)!
Arts Serve As “Scaffold” For Neighborhood Revival
“Serenity” Takes Root On Shepard Street
Bird Garden Fights Blight
Yale Flees Newhallville After Prof’s Mugging

Tags: , , , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: HewNaven on October 16, 2013  6:05pm

Great news! Especially happy to see the inclusion of the Construction Workforce Initiative. Congratulations to those who made this dream a reality.

posted by: New Haven LandTrust on October 16, 2013  8:31pm

The New Haven Land Trust is delighted to have this great addition to our Ivy Street Community Garden. The greenhouse is yet another sign that the city is committed to community gardening for the long term and we are thrilled to see this. Thank you to the community partners who made this happen, and to the gardeners who have been tilling the soil and growing beautiful produce in the Ivy Street Community Garden for years. Not only are the gardeners growing food for themselves, but they are sharing it with their neighbors and making the neighborhood stronger.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on October 16, 2013  9:22pm

Awesome. Of all my favorite gardens in New Haven Alfonzo’s is my number 1. So great to see him expanding. Everybody in New Haven should take a visit to Ivy street to see what he’s created.  He’s an excellent garden host as well.

posted by: nhstudent4ever on October 16, 2013  9:29pm

Very cool! Will it be open to the general public?

posted by: Hill South Resident on October 17, 2013  10:29am

This is another wonderful project that has sprung up in Newhallville. Along with the increased involvement of residents in the neighborhood beautification efforts, community gardens, housing revitalization and construction, street light improvements, block watches, this project will add to the positive initiatives that the people who LIVE there are spearheading and participating in. I am appreciative of the fact that the residents of Newhallville are looking at and initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life in this neighborhood, involve not only residents (across ALL age groups and walks) but are partnering with agencies, companies and government to do what NEEDS to be done in THEIR community ... building community! I look forward to seeing even greater things take place there, and duplicating them in other neighborhoods ... like the HILL!!!