The village of Ellenville, New York, welcomed in 2015 the arrival of John Clark from England, where he was a University Professor of Earth Science, a business developer in the charities sector, and Chairman of a Workers’ and a Housing Cooperative. Since 1988 John has also created and taught in organic vegetable gardens.

Advocated by Ulster County Tourism, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Town of Wawarsing, and the Village of Ellenville, John is now Ellenville Farmers' Market Manager, founder and coordinator of a multi-site community vegetable gardens project in Ellenville, and a teacher of organic vegetable gardening.

In order to identify areas of potential for desperately-needed economic and social regeneration in Ellenville, John undertook a six-week reconnaissance mission in early 2015, meeting with a hundred local people in positions of responsibility, listening to specialist knowledge and experience, and noting ideas and advice.

A horticultural program to raise the economic fortunes, the social and cultural profile, and the holistic development of Ellenville and its residents was conceived and designed by John in 2015, with several elements of the vision now in active progress as a village-wide momentum of enthusiasm has developed for the “Ellenville Garden Village” project. According to a necessarily hugely collaborative program (some fifty local and regional partners are involved), in 2016 the “Ellenville Garden Village” project is now realizing its core aim to introduce a healthier lifestyle among local people: the farmers' market is up and running for a twenty-week season, while unused areas of land in Ellenville are being transformed into productive and aesthetically-pleasing organic vegetable gardens.

Detailed cultivation plan of the Praise Dominion vegetable garden, 2015.

Stage 1 of the project is now completed......
Plots of otherwise unused land belonging to places of worship across the village have been made available for cultivation, seeds, tools and materials donated, and plots designed. A 3,000 sq ft organic vegetable garden was created in 2015 at Praise Dominion church, Ellenville, providing the church food pantry with a selection of freshly-harvested organic vegetables. This garden is being maintained in 2016, and harvests are proving bountiful.

Given a general unawareness of how to prepare unprocessed foods, John provides food pantry recipients of the fresh vegetables with information sheets identifying the crops and outlining simple methods of cooking each vegetable variety. John has successfully petitioned Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide Eat Smart New York (ESNY) nutrition education to support the “Ellenville Garden Village” project's garden-to-food pantry commitment.

The Praise Dominion herb garden, lined with rocks extracted during vegetable bed preparation.
Having persevered through numerous obstacles and adversities, John has successfully managed to launch a 2016 season for Ellenville Farmers' Market (representing the project's farm-to-community element). The twenty-week season is running every Sunday, 10am-2pm, June 19 through October 30, 2016.

Please visit the Ellenville Farmers' Market facebook page

Following a three-year hiatus, it's proving quite a challenge to attract customers here and, therefore, to retain vendors. Given the market's potential for community-building, promotion of healthy living and prosperity for local businesses, we ask for lots of public support. Thank you.

The “Ellenville Garden Village” project: 2017 and beyond......

Depending upon active volunteer commitment, plans are in place to organically cultivate one new church vegetable garden in Ellenville each year, commencing spring 2017.

The project aims to reach out in 2018 to Ellenville’s residential sector, focusing on accommodation rented by willing people in unemployment. Supported by Cornell Cooperative extension, John will design vegetable plots to replace poorly-kept yard areas, encouraging families to participate in caring for their own vegetable gardens.

It may be through gaining a new awareness of self-provision by growing vegetables of their own and discovering a new pride in themselves, in their gardens and in their village that residents in poverty aspire with purpose away from acceptance of meaningless existence in unemployment and the cycle of reliance upon others, toward a new life of achievement, reward and ambition.

Taking the “Ellenville Garden Village” project to the younger generation, hands-on horticultural projects are being designed for classroom studies in 2017. Right now, young people are earning school community service credits under John’s supervision at the Praise Dominion garden, and this partnership with Ellenville Central School District will be developed from 2016 onward, involving student placement at several vegetable gardens across Ellenville.

Education for all ages is central to the mission of the “Ellenville Garden Village” project, and John has designed a new horticultural teaching program for the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). The program will commence at the BOCES vocational education center, Ellenville in March, 2016, when John will teach a twelve-week course entitled Organic Vegetable Gardening. Assuming the course proves successful in Ellenville, John will take it to other Ulster County BOCES centers in 2017.

The local government, the Village of Ellenville, has provided a part of Mill Street Park for John to cultivate as a teaching garden. Cornell University Cooperative Extension has committed Master Gardeners both to the Ellenville teaching garden, and to horticultural teaching elements of the “Ellenville Garden Village” project.

When the “Ellenville Garden Village” project has proven itself successful in the three- or four-year term, the initiative will be presented more widely to be applied in the economic and social regeneration of other communities in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

John always wants to hear from prospective project partners offering active support, for it is with action that John will reciprocate in helping to achieve your project’s objectives.

Professor John Clark can be contacted by email: EllenvilleOrgVeg@aol.com

In order to continue to achieve and to develop the objectives of the “Ellenville Garden Village” project, four practical considerations must now necessarily be realized:

(i) Volunteer commitment for spring 2016, as several new vegetable gardens are planned for creation in Ellenville (work tasks will match physical ability)

(ii) Donations of gardening equipment and materials (including organic seeds, deer-proof fencing, 6 ft fence posts, and dry concrete mix)

(iii) Vendor commitment for Ellenville Farmers’ Market (foods and crafts)

(iv) Sponsor commitment for Ellenville Farmers’ Market

The intention of this blog (updated approximately monthly) is to share with all interested parties and persons an outline of the wide-ranging activities now being carried out in the “Ellenville Garden Village” project, as part of a continuing effort to attract active participation in this and partner projects whose mission is to improve the immediate and the long-term economic and holistic development of Ellenville and its residents.