Community garden project hits a snag

Laurie Nigro (left) and Amy Davidson are in search of a new place to get a community garden growing, after discovering their first-choice location had already been promised to veterans for a memorial.

Two local women behind a movement to get a community-run garden up and running in downtown Riverhead are still looking for a spot where neighbors can come together to grow fruits and vegetables.

Amy Davidson and Laurie Nigro originally thought land near the intersection of Griffing Avenue and West Main Street, near the entrance to Grangebel Park, would be the perfect place for the garden. But they later discovered that space had been promised as the site of a veterans memorial — more than six years ago.

“We’ve hit this stumbling block,” Ms. Davidson said.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he hoped Ms. Davidson and Ms. Nigro could perhaps work a deal with local veterans to find another place for the monument, which has not been built. If not, he was hopeful another place for the garden could be found.

“I will never slight the veterans, [but] I think the town could find a more fitting location for a monument,” Mr. Walter said. “We will have to see if we can’t come to an agreement,”

The women initially proposed the garden as a congregating place for community members, especially young mothers, and as a way to spruce up downtown.

Ideally, anyone in the community would be able to sign up for a plot, which they would then be responsible for maintaining, the women said. They also envision leaving two plots open, one for children to tend and another to be used for educational purposes.

Ms. Nigro noted that if a location is not found soon, they will probably have to wait until next spring to plant the garden.

The community garden is awaiting nonprofit status, Ms. Davidson added.

Meanwhile, the project has gained support in the community and beyond. Long Island Compost donated 60 cubic yards of compost; the Star Foundation, a wildlife rescue operation in Middle Island, made a cash donation; and the Riverhead Business Improvement District board agreed to pay for decorative fencing around the garden.

The women remain optimistic that they will find the right place.

“We continue to hope and we’re not giving up,” Ms. Davidson.

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