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Tusten heritage garden planned for Narrowsburg

By Fritz Mayer
April 4, 2012

If Tusten councilwoman Andrea Reynosa is successful, there will be a new garden in Narrowsburg very soon. Called the Tusten Heritage Community Garden, the objective of the project is to “foster, develop and strengthen ties among the various existing groups” in the Towns of Tusten and Cochecton and the Township of Damascus in Pennsylvania.

One of the main elements of the project is a paid internship program for youths in this age group. Reynosa said there would be room for eight to 10 youths aged 14 to 20. Another feature is that it will be restaurant-supported agriculture, meaning the produce grown in the garden will be sold in shares to local restaurants. If all goes as planned, some of the produce will be available to the public.

Initially, Reynosa had hoped to locate the garden at the 14-acre sports field on Kirk Road, which is currently owned by the Sullivan West Central School district, but insurance and legal concerns made that impractical, so another site is being sought.

Another part of the project is the creation of an edible landscaping installation at Fort Delaware, which Reynosa said is on board with the project.

In order to be able to collect tax-exempt donations for the ambitious project, the Town of Tusten is following the lead of the Town of Bethel and creating a Local Development Corporation (LDC). Reynosa said, “It wouldn’t be legal for the funds to go through the municipality. We talked to our accountant and our town attorney, and they suggested that we create an LDC.”

At the most recent Tusten Town Board meeting, a majority of the board seemed supportive of the plan. If approved, the members of the town board will appoint the members of the LDC. Once in place, local businesses will be able to donate funds to the garden, as well as, perhaps, other projects in the town and receive tax deductions based on the donations.

Reynosa is president of the Solution Project, a nonprofit group formed to come up with a plan to purchase and develop the now-shuttered Narrowsburg School in a way that will best benefit the community. The group has previously made a presentation about a possible plan for the school, and on March 26 a letter of intent was given to the district. The Sullivan West Board of Education is expected to review the plan at its meeting on April 5.

The offer from the Solution Project includes the purchase of the 14-acre sports field and, if successful, the heritage garden may be located there next year.