Roosevelt Home Garden Report 2022

Fresh strawberries from the garden

Harvest

The Roosevelt Garden was very productive in 2022, with 363 crates of fruits and vegetables donated to Dutchess Outreach Fresh Market. Perennial crops, like strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, and rhubarb, began to produce well last year.

Fresh radishes and carrots from the garden
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Walden, National Park Service Guide
Artichokes growing in the garden

A sturdy trellis for the raspberries was milled and constructed by Dave Hayes, NPS Resource Management Team Leader, from a historic oak that overlooked the vegetable garden for the entirety of Franklin Roosevelt’s life.

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Walden, National Park Service Guide
A sturdy trellis for the raspberries
Fresh strawberries from the garden
Half a century ago a small boy took especial delight in climbing an old tree, now unhappily gone, to pick and eat ripe sickle pears. That was about one hundred feet to the west of where I am standing now. And just to the north he used to lie flat between the strawberry rows and eat sun-warmed strawberries--the best in the world.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1939; Address at the Laying of the Cornerstone of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY. 

Gardening in Today’s Climate

Excessive heat and drought posed challenges for plants and people.  Water conserving methods, such as timed soaker hoses, were used to keep crops productive.  Pace and hydration were key to keeping gardeners safe.  Organic methods that take a holistic approach to garden health helped buffer the garden from crop stresses caused by extreme weather.

NPS Ranger spraying a hot garden volunteer with water
Photo courtesy Jennifer Henion, Roosevelt Home Garden Volunteer​

Following an infestation of onion maggots in young transplants and consulting with Cornell Cooperative Extension, the gardeners applied New York native entomopathic nematodes to all garden areas. These microscopic creatures parasitize the larvae of many soil-born garden pests, and populations are persistent.  NPS horticulturists will stay in touch with Cornell Researchers about this relatively new research application.

A row of fresh opinions growing in the garden
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Walden, National Park Service Guide
Image of soil-born garden pest larvae

Interpretation through Social Media

This season, the garden got a big boost from NPS Interpretive Ranger Elizabeth Walden.  Elizabeth visited the garden during harvest on Tuesdays, photographing the produce andinterviewing staff, volunteers, and visitors.  From these visits, she created fun and educational posts for the park’s Facebook site, expanding public outreach and helping to spread the Roosevelts’ legacy of the importance of equal access to nutritious and locally grown foods.

Below is the link to Elizabeth’s final Facebook post of the season:

Facebook post screen shot
NPS ranger fills big containers with garden produce
Photo courtesy Jennifer Henion, Roosevelt Home Garden Volunteer

Partnerships

The horticulture staff continues to strengthen community partnerships. Food security programs at Dutchess Outreach have evolved to meet expanding needs in the region.  The FDR Hyde Park Foundation has provided support for these programs through Home Garden produce donations and raising awareness of the benefits of the Mobile Fresh Market.
Dutchess Outreach showing fresh produce from their Mobile Market trailer
Photo courtesy Jeanne Traugot, Dutchess Outreach
Dutchess County Outreach volunteer showing children how to plant saplings

Other program-expanding partnerships included Nubian Directions, a City of Poughkeepsie Youth Employment Program; and Living Resources, an organization that supports and empowers individuals with disabilities or other life-challenging conditions to live with dignity, independence, and happiness.  Both of these partnerships bring energetic volunteer support to the garden and help the NPS work towards goals of accessibility for the community.  Poughkeepsie Day School and the Culinary Institute of America continued to be great educational partners for shared learning both in the park and on their campuses.

Nubian Directions, a City of Poughkeepsie Youth Employment Program learning about the garden from a volunteer
Volunteers working in the garden
For the second year in a row, NPS horticulture staff partnered with Vassar College Office of Community Engaged Learning (OCEL) in the Vassar OCEL Fellows program. Vassar OCEL identifies, recruits, and pays a stipend to student Fellows who are best matched to the NPS community horticulture program.  Hailey Osika designed an educational kiosk for small space garden exhibit, took a leadership role in garden volunteer support, introduced other Vassar students to the park and its volunteer programs, and became an integral part of the staff with significant contributions to work in all areas.
Hailey Osika
Hailey Osika

Volunteers

This year the horticulture staff launched a successful campaign to increase volunteer participation.  Ten new repeating volunteers were added to the existing ranks, and volunteers logged 920 hours in the garden. While these numbers represent a significant amount of labor for the program, they don’t begin to describe the talent, energy and outreach that volunteers contribute.
Volunteers working in the garden
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Walden, National Park Service Guide
Volunteers working in the garden
Volunteer showing freshly picked produce
Volunteers working in the garden
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Walden, National Park Service Guide

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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