May 19, 2022

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Gardens for health, self-sufficiency and rooted friendships | Pamela’s Food Service Diary

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The pandemic permanently drilled a few lessons into my mindset. There is the importance of self-sufficiency with the peace of mind in having a continuous food supply. Also during COVID, especially in the quarantine days, the only reliable thing in our housebound state (and beyond) was our garden. Flowers kept blooming and nature kept going even when the world seemed to stop.

With that, I want to emphasize the importance of tending a garden. And on many levels, the borough’s four garden clubs illustrate that great matter in their work around Staten Island. Consider them quiet sets of helping hands that keep the beauty going in the Borough of Parks.

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Susan Marretta, left, with Bernadette Sullivan at The Staaten. (Staten Island Advance/ Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

“Gardening is my sanity. I love watching things grow and eating healthy,” said Susan Marretta, member of the Richmond Ever-Green Garden Club established in 1985. This group, by the way, is involved with community beautification projects — to name a few — the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, Fr. Capodanno Chapel at Fort Wadsworth, St. Nicholas Chapel as well as an historic preservation project and garden restoration at Silver Mount Cemetery, Silver Lake.

At a recent luncheon at The Staaten for the four organizations, there were faces attached to those mothers of nature.

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– Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. The speaker of the day was Christine Donck-Guelton, right, a Sogetsu School Instructor and board member NY chapter Soghetsu School and Ikebana International. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Heading up the Castle Manor Garden Club are Lucille Bauer and Evelia Foster, a crew who loves gardening and protecting the local environment. They tend dozens of community endeavors — the Blue Star By-Way Memorial Garden at Fort Wadsworth and the Manresa Council 9/11 garden.

Graceann Morawek is at the helm of the Great Kills Garden Club, founded in 1954. Her fellow ladies maintain the entrance to Bloomingdale Park. Their monthly meetings include chats about nature, flower design and offer a hands-on make-it-and-take-it workshops.

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– Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. Pamela SilvestriPamela Silvestri

And here’s an interesting tidbit: the oldest club on the Isle of Staaten — the Staten Island Garden Club — was founded in 1914 by Alice Austen herself. This modern group of 34 members-strong grooms the Alice Austin House Museum grounds of “Clear Comfort” in Rosebank plus the famed photographer’s grave site at Moravian Cemetery. Among the many projects around the North Shore, this club champions frogs. The effort that raises awareness of the declining, bug-eating frog and amphibian populations.

“We encourage novice gardeners with our ‘moments’ and non-competitive flower arrangement workshops. The only membership requirement is an interest in gardening, a love of flowers and an appreciation of natural beauty,” notes president S.I. Garden Club prez Josephine Fedele.

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Enjoying a day with gardening on their mind at The Staaten. (Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Then, there is the Richmond Ever-Green Garden Club.

Says its president Suzanne Quinn, “We create wreaths for the women who have completed the program at Amethyst House. We keep current with speakers on horticulture, history of The Island and tours of gardens. This is a small part of what we do. We support each other and the camaraderie is wonderful and are always looking for new members to join.”

Quinn is a native Staten Islander who grew up on the South Shore with a garden cultivated by her father.

“This was just a way of life as we were [living among] the farm’s of the borough. My father’s parents had turkeys and chickens and my mother had rabbits and chickens. She’s from the Westerleigh area,” said Quinn. Her mom is a spry 100 and she attributes the longevity to the self-sufficient home — canning, jarring and preserving nature’s bounty from the yard.

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– Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

“I just love it. It’s being outside. We enjoyed seeing things grow during the pandemic on my father’s garden that had been left empty for quite a few years. My husband who never really did vegetable gardening took that over and that was a nice thing to see my father’s garden resurrected,” said Quinn.

Long live our Island’s garden clubs for the next generations!

Here is the contact information and meeting schedule for the four garden clubs. Hopefully you are encouraged to join to one of them to keep the garden community rooted, so to speak:

Castle Manor Garden Club

Co-presidents: Lucille Bauer and Evelia Foster

Meets: Second Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m.

Contact: [email protected]

Staten Island Garden Club

President: Josephine Fedele

Meets: Fourth Wednesday of the month

Contact: [email protected]

Great Kills Garden Club

President: Graceann Morawek

Meets: Third Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m.

Contact: 917-992-9719

Richmond Ever-Green Garden Club

President: Suzanne Quinn

Meets: Second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Contact: [email protected]

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– Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Suzaannne Quinn of the Richmond Ever-Green Garden Club, left, and Evelia Foster of the Castle Manor Garden Club. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Catching up over gardening talk (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Chocolate Halloween cake was among the goodies for sale for the garden clubs’ annual big fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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– Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Some of the helping hands in the community who tend to the beautification of the Borough of Parks. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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From left to right: Carol Boylan, Graceann Morawek, Josephine Fedele and Suzanne Quinn. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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A fabulous carrot cake donated to the sale table at The Staaten for a fundraiser for the four garden clubs of Staten Island. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Garden club members mingle at The Staaten. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Selling raffles to benefit the borough’s gardening community. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Carol Berardi addresses the room. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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From left to right: Betty LaFemina and Carol Boylan. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Suzanne Quinn, left, and Evalia Foster (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Garden Club members enjoy a luncheon for fellowship and a fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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Garden club members gathered at The Staaten for the first time in almost two years for their biggest annual fundraiser. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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At lunch with the borough’s gardening groups. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

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In a luncheon at The Staaten, the borough’s most avid gardeners gathered on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

https://www.silive.com/dining/2021/10/gardens-for-health-self-sufficiency-and-rooted-friendships-pamelas-food-service-diary.html