Young people in central Steuben County put their green thumbs to excellent use this summer.
By establishing thriving gardens, the cluster youth group of St. Gabriel, Hammondsport, and St. Mary, Bath, made food available to appreciative area residents. According to Mary Carol Wall, youth minister, the project grew out of a suggestion by the Central Steuben Catholic Parishes. The effort was done in collaboration with Bath Community Day Care, a program of Catholic Charities of Steuben County located at the former St. Mary School in Bath.
"Wood was donated, as were soil and seeds. And so we gathered and sawed and hammered and hauled earth, and then we planted and watered," Wall said.
She noted that the weather patterns — a "wet summer that quickly turned to a hot, dry blast of sunshine" meant the crew eventually needed lots of help with the watering.
"The day-care youths came to the rescue," she said. "They hauled gallons of water to each of the beds, and began to weed. In fact, they began to learn the identities of the weeds, telling lambsquarters from redroot pigweed, lady’s thumb from purslane. The potatoes needed to be hilled (and) they did it."
Another challenge was trying to determine why broccoli leaves kept disappearing. At first the culprits were thought to be cabbage worms, so volunteers picked numerous worms off the leaves. Finally, though, the guilty party was revealed to be a groundhog. The pesky creature was relocated and new broccoli plants were inserted.
Along with broccoli, the garden has produced beans, summer squash, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and onions. From there, the produce has been brought "to individuals and families in both Hammondsport and Bath who could use a visit and a smile, and the taste of summer sunshine," Wall said.