Early Bloomers

Despite a layer of snow blanketing the ground, a myriad of various types of flora were springing up at the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center.

On Saturday, the second annual Grow Jamestown Garden Fair was held at the Center, providing area residents with a much-needed glimpse into what spring has in store for the community.

The event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., was coordinated by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and several of its partners, including Cornell Cooperative Extension and volunteers from Lutheran Social Services. According to Peter Lombardi, executive director of the JRC, the garden fair is intended to teach the benefits of gardening from a personal and public standpoint.

“The purpose of the event is to number one, provide education through workshops,” said Lombardi. “It’s a combination of businesses that have something to do with gardening and landscaping, and organizations that are trying to promote it as a public interest. I think anyone who comes here can, from the businesses, learn about how they can improve their own gardens, and talk to landscapers about how to improve the appearance of their homes-which is really important to neighborhood revitalization in Jamestown. And then, from the non-profit organizations, they can learn about (a variety of) food- and gardening-related projects in the community and how they can get involved with them.”

Lombardi said that the idea to host a garden fair in Jamestown came from a similar event, which was held in Warren.

“Sharon Reed, from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s master gardeners program, had talked about how Warren’s cooperative extension had a program similar to this,” he said. “And there was a desire to have something similar to that in Jamestown. So this is sort of loosely modeled after that Warren County event, although I think it’s grown bigger. We’ve surpassed last year-and we have twice as many workshops and definitely more vendors.”

There were a total of eight individually-themed workshops, running from 10:30 a.m to 1:15 p.m. The workshops were provided by: Chautauqua County Master Gardeners; Bruce Robinson; Dan Stone; The Home Depot; JRC; and Creating Healthy Spaces.

According to Mary Maxwell, JRC’s neighborhood project associate, the workshops were designed to teach the dynamic nature of gardening.

“I don’t want people to think that gardening is something they can do for two months and be done,” said Maxwell. “It’s a piece of art that, for me, has been a lifelong process.”

Lombardi said that the garden fair has the material to appeal to gardeners of all ages and skill levels.

“(Gardening) is a multi-generational, multi-skill level activity,” he said. “And I think you can see that on display at an event like this. It’s a good way of getting people to connect with each other at an event like this or in the community.”

Due to the success of the garden fair’s inaugural year, which attracted approximately 300 people, more businesses, vendors and organizations have signed on to participate in this year’s event.

Participating businesses included: Big Tree Landscaping & Nursery; Bloomquist’s Landscaping; Marlinski Landscape & Stonework; Mike’s Nursery; Roberts Nursery; and The Home Depot. Food and crafts were made available by: Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market, including the Busti Cider Mill and Small Meadows Farm; Bruce J. Robinson Photography; Evergreen Forge; Frederes World of Woodcraft; Paula Coats Pottery; Recreations by Deb; and Planet Earth Catering, which catered the event.

The event was supported by organizations including: BOCES’ Work Experience Program; Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; City of Jamestown Parks Department; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County; Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work & Play; JCC Community Garden; Jamestown Audubon Society; Jamestown High School’s “Gardeners of Weedin'” club; Jamestown Renaissance Corporation; James Prendergast Library; St. Susan Center’s Giving Garden; and The Resource Center.