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Praise For North Salem Community Garden

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.  -- The North Salem Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Send letters by email to

The following letter was sent to North Salem High School Assistant Principal Dr. George Bovino and dated June 21 .

Dear George,

Last evening’s ceremonial opening of the Community Garden was a beautiful event to attend. The garden is an overwhelming success from every viewpoint. Your leadership, coordination, resourcefulness, perseverance, challenge-hurdling alacrity, and general goodwill were showcased to the full. Congratulations…..and thank you, on so many levels. You and all those involved give me a new hope and joy in life.

I wish I could have helped more, but other needs had to be addressed instead.  I regret that but take heart in the fact that you all prevailed, against many odds.

The community needs a place to garden without dealing with deer and with water supplies at hand. The students need the learning experience of food source, the interaction with their environment, climate, weather; the pleasure and failures with making things grow and the challenges to overcome odds; the physical work of working the soil; overcoming the efforts working against you (pests, weeds, drought, mold). These truly hands-on experiences for students are long-lasting.  And, then they get to eat good, healthy food!

Much praise is deserved by and for Joan Gabel.  Meeting her in the earliest days of “garden-thinking” was a pleasure for me.  Her enthusiasm and drive are a treasure.

The garden has a beautiful appearance with the gorgeously constructed and one-of-a-kind table, benches and pergola. Those who constructed and designed it demonstrated excellent taste and craftsmanship.  The layout of the raised beds is lovely and functional, with wood chips to pave their access. The water pumps are such an asset and you have two! The staff and The Open Land Foundation really came through.

The art project was an absolutely brilliant project. The pillars of character…..terrific learning tool and cleverly created as art form with the wood posts, Lucite and recycled bottle caps. Those students will never look at those bottles of soda or water in the same old way again, ever. The notebooks explaining the concept are the literary and philosophical component of the project.  Again….just brilliant.

The art teacher, Lauren Gardner, her students and the installation crew did a first-rate job on all of this.

May I just suggest a way for people coming into the garden, whether visitors or gardeners, to add their voices to what they see and read? Some kind of notebook, or a plastic writing “book” with a waterproof marker, to leave behind their reactions? This is often found in museums and galleries. Or even a waterproof box with a slot to receive their notes.

Now, for the music. To hear this enchanting flute music drifting in the breeze on that superbly beautiful, sunny, mild evening …well, it was just perfect.  Lovely choices of music and 4 lovely young ladies (Ms. Budd, Ms. Carlin, Ms. Davis, and Ms. Chen) and their teacher, Stephen Austin, to perform it, made it very special.

And now, to the icing on the cake: What a CAKE! Such a professional decorating work of art, second to none, with the lovely raised garden plots and their vegetables, was created by one of the staff. What her name was I cannot remember. How special to have done this for all gathered there!  And, the best surprise was that it was absolutely delicious…the cake itself, the filling, and the icing. I loved every  bite of it.

Well, you can see I am perhaps gushing a bit. What can you do when perfection was achieved at every level, every single level.

It was very gratifying to be present last night for your gala opening and I congratulate you all and thank you so much for inviting me.

With best regards,

Gail Pantezzi Former North Salem Board of Education Trustee (1980-1986)

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