ENDICOTT (WBNG) — On Tuesday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation granted Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments, or VINES, a $100,000 grant to help their community gardens.
The VINES community garden program promotes a sustainable and just food system. The organization said it will use the grant to help Southern Tier residents grow fruits and vegetables safely.
According to Executive Director Amelia LoDolce, VINES will provide lead testing at residents’ homes to ensure they are not gardening in lead-contaminated soil.
“A lot of our backyards have very high concentrations of lead in them,” LoDolce said. “When we [Endicott] and our community in Broome County have lead poisoning rates in our children multiple times above the state average, we really need to be looking at this issue.”
According to LoDolce, VINES will also be working with the American Civic Association to ensure that immigrant and refugee populations have access to community garden services.
“We see such a need in our community to help serve those in these populations,” LoDolce said. “And many times they aren’t getting the services that are out there and available to them because of language barriers or other barriers.”
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