For months, Erika Stehl worked to prepare a garden. In a section of the Manorhaven Preserve, brush was cleared away, planting boxes were set up, and seeds were planted in the Growing Love Community Garden. Last week — more than five years after Stehl said she first had the idea for the garden — it finally opened.
“I really have to say it was a magical moment,” said Stehl, who co-founded the garden with Port Washington residents Michele Rowe and Nicole Assela. “All the pieces of the pie fit together and we worked together to get it to this point.”
The opening was attended by state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio and Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena, who set aside land for the project near the Senior Center on Manorhaven Boulevard.
The opening featured food, music and face painting for children.
The garden features 46 four-by-eight-foot raised beds, which were given to local residents through a lottery of over 100 people. Stehl said these gardens will mostly consist of vegetables and flowering plants — the latter of which will attract pollinating insects and birds, which will help with the growth of the vegetables.
She said that those selected to receive a box will keep it for a year.
“We want to give them an opportunity to plant and work them,” she said. “But they have to be there two or three times per week to water and weed.”
And despite the opening ceremony, Stehl said that work still needs to be done.
“We need to plant shrubs around the perimeter to attract pollinators like butterflies and we have a lot of decorative elements that have to be received and not in yet,” she said.
But she was thrilled to see people planting and maintaining their boxes. Stehl said the garden has seen visitors ranging from small children to senior citizens. She said that the garden was perfect for Manorhaven because many in the densely populated village did not have space for a garden on their own property.
“It’s a big mix of people, and it’s a good way to meet your neighbors,” Stehl said.