On a warm Tuesday, the Subversive Gardener brought over 200 tomato plants, grown from seed (Baker Creek Heirlooms) to Los Sures Senior Housing facility located in Williamsburg. As soon as we approached with 10 trays full of tomato plants, we were greeted with several “Wows” from residents of the building. Right off the bat, we gave away a few plants to people who were really excited and recognized the greenery as tomato plants.
We met up with Zach Williams, who kindly gave us an in depth tour of the incredible space. There are two gardens located in the front of the building on either side. The right side is mostly populated with flowers, the other is seeded with cover crop, beans, tomatillos, corn and some tomatoes. We then brought the tomatoes to the back area behind the building, where there are chickens who live in a large caged area among roses and a coop. We even got a chance to hold Einstein the chicken! The back area is also strategically planted in raised beds full of “Las tres hermanas” or some assortment of variations of squash, beans and corn, all of which are important companion plants. We tried mustard greens, borage, and Cuban oregano. DELICIOUS! Zach, Anthony, and many residents of the building contribute plants and time to help take care of the garden and it shows! What a beautiful space hidden away behind a sea of brick and concrete.
We then ventured downstairs to the food pantry, where we saw hydroponics and aquaponic systems that blew us away. These help support people who need medicinal herbs in the winter. Zach described the plants grown in these systems as “culturally relevant” for the residents. Many of the people who live here grew up in other parts of the world and are used to cultivating certain plants. It is a great way for people in the building to have a piece of their other homes and cultures close by. Finally, we said goodbye to our tomato babies, gave them a quick water to make sure they stayed hydrated in the heat and were on our way. We are looking forward to seeing more incredible work from the community in Los Sures and were really glad to have had a chance to see the site!