Roosevelt Family Home Garden Report 2021

Roses

After a year of limited and mainly remote public outreach, the Landscape and Garden Division of the Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS was delighted to welcome visitors and groups to the park for in-person tours and activities. Students in the Farm to Table Concentration and the Sustainable Food Systems class from the Culinary Institute of America, members of the Poughkeepsie Public Library book club reading Doug Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope, and the staff from Wethersfield Gardens in Amenia, NY were among the groups touring the garden. High school students participating in the City of Poughkeepsie’s Nubian Directions Summer Youth Employment program capped off their season with a visit to the garden for education and career exploration.

Vassar College Community Engaged Learning Fellow, Meg Ritzau, developed an audio tour for the vegetable garden, which has allowed visitors to learn about the garden even when staff is not present. Meg also assembled photos and a script for a new wayside for the garden and updated information for the NPS’s website.

Garden Volunteers
Home Garden Lunch Being Served

For the past three years, the garden program has participated in meetings of the Hudson Valley Food System Coalition, which focuses on food equity, community health, and sustainability. This participation has enhanced the awareness of food and its availability to those in the Hudson Valley and to all associated with managing the garden.

With a return to on-site programming this year, the first park-wide Roosevelt Home Garden BLT Lunch was hosted! A variety of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and a perfectly ripe Tom Watson watermelon were on the menu.

Volunteers

Volunteers play many important roles in the Home Garden. In 2021, 647 volunteer hours were contributed in the gardens at the Home of FDR. As an integral part of the workforce engaged in planting, maintaining, and harvesting, they connect the garden with the community at large in significant and meaningful ways. We look forward to expanding our volunteer corps in 2022.

Garden volunteers working in the garden
Garden volunteers working in the garden

Perennial Crops

When the garden was re-established in 2016, park staff recognized that improvements to the soil (reducing compaction and improving soil quality and drainage) were needed prior to the introduction of perennial crops. With the 5-year goal met in this regard, perennial crops were introduced to the garden this year. In spring 2021, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, and rhubarb were planted. Grapes and currants will be added in 2022.

Perennial crops
Fresh aspberries growing in the garden

Small Space Gardening Exhibit

Soil improvements have also allowed the Small Space Gardening Exhibit to be moved to its permanent location this season. The plantings have been simplified for a better understanding of the growing systems on display and improved circulation within the exhibit. Standardized exhibit signage was also created and installed this year. These improvements, along with the audio tour developed by 2020 horticulture intern Jennifer Edwards, have made this exhibit easily accessible and understandable to visitors.

Roosevelt Small Space Garden
Small Space Gardening Exhibit

Climate, the Environment, and our Garden Strategies

The Landscape and Garden teams are committed to organic practices to fertilize and control pests in the garden. Only pest control products that protect the crops while minimizing human health and environmental risks are used. Choice products and timely applications reduce impacts to beneficial insects, including pollinators. In addition to the weekly organic spray program, a biodegradable film mulch (to control weeds and reduce insect pest populations), kaolin clay (a white, chalky material applied to foliage to reduce heat stress and deter insects), and a fine mesh netting to exclude insect pests, have been integrated into the grading practices. Also, staff and volunteers are trained to recognize plant pests and beneficial insects. This year a large population of helpful blue scolid wasps were found in the garden; these feed on and help to control grubs of Japanese Beetles and June Beetles.

Fine mesh insect netting
Scolid Wasps

The Landscape and Garden Division of the Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS thanks the Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park Foundation for their continued support of the Home Garden Restoration. Their support ensures the interpretation of an important legacy of the Roosevelt family in Hyde Park and allows us to connect our community and visitors to their stories.

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CAITLYN GERMINARO is a Human Services professional whose passion is supporting and advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Caitlyn is a Senior Program Coordinator for a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities and partnering with communities across the Mid-Hudson Valley. In 2022, Caitlyn received a CP State Annual Conference Staff Recognition Award. She also received the 2023 Leadership Dutchess Community Advocate Award and is a graduate of the Leadership Dutchess program. Caitlyn holds a BS from the College of Saint Rose and an MS from Walden University. A golfer, gardener, and sunset enthusiast, she lives in Red Hook, NY, with her husband and their two dogs.

DAVID SCHWARTZ Born in 1951, David grew up in New York City. In 1972, he received his B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. Following graduation, David began his career with Mikasa, a leader in the Tableware and Housewares industry – first in sales, then in management and as a company principal. Following the company’s initial public offering on the NYSE, David retired from the firm in 1996 and has since made his livelihood as a private investor. Recently, he’s become an active member of the Hudson Valley Start-up Fund, an Investment group that seeks to enable a stronger business ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the Hudson Valley region.

David lives at “Windridge”, a 130 acre former dairy farm (now mostly forested), in Hyde Park, New York. The land adjoins the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site.

David serves on the Boards of several Hudson Valley non-profits, including the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, the Vassar Haiti Project, and the Mid-Hudson chapter of Mensa.

FDR Hyde Park Foundation Symbol

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