2023 Season Launch Letter from the President a.k.a. UPDATE from FRANK about HIS TIME, ALCHEMICAL projects, and YOUR PLACE IN IT

False springs and second winters and everything in between has thoughts leaning into the growing season, as I’m sure it does with you too.  But here we are entering into astrological spring on Monday (March 21st).  Four SUNY-ESF students from the Society of Ecological Restoration got in touch already and we hosted them Sunday February 26th along with two other community volunteers (alongside Ursula and I) for a pruning workshop and work session at Rahma.

I’m writing today to inform y’all how I plan to proceed with managing my time as the steward leader and project/garden coordinator for Alchemical Nursery’s sites in 2023. So thanks for reading as it’s important for me, for you to know my commitments and abilities moving forward this season since I am changing a number of things around.

1) Since we don’t have a current stewardship team or Lead for Rahma Forest Garden, I won’t be able to schedule regular work sessions on the calendar, and they will be on a needed and wanted basis according to contacts and plans, such as the SUNY-ESF students reaching out a few weeks back.  Do you want to be a Lead for a Rahma team and schedule?  If so, please be in touch.  Do you want to schedule a session for you and your friends, peers, colleagues, workmates?

2) I will not be attending regular Saturdays at 610 Gifford St Garden this year (either the regular 11 AM sessions or the 9 AM sessions we move to during the Summer heat).  Instead, I will be moving my energy and effort at those Saturday times to The Depot project which needs some dedicated and regular participation from me to keep it flowing into being.  If anyone wants to be a Lead for 610 in my absence please let me know.  We’re also looking for more bed adopters, read on for more on that.

3) This switch away from 610 Gifford for me personally is possible for a couple reasons this year.  First, last year we hired out a contractor to mow paths and edges at 610 Gifford and the Depot, this freed up tons of my time, think at least 60-90 minutes bi-weekly from May – September.  That’s almost 30 hours of my time savedYou can contribute to our general fund to help with this cost at https://www.nfggive.org/donation/45-0594407.   Second, we have transitioned much of 610 Gifford to perennials (almost all of it) over the last couple years, and on top of that, last year we started our ADOPT-A-BED efforts, and 5 people (myself, Ursula, Susan, Carrie, Kathryn) agreed to adopt a bed section of 610 to manage and weed and care for on their timeschedule (but visiting at least bi-weekly).

4) The Alchemical Nursery Project Inc as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 operates it’s main office out of my home at Bitternut Homestead on 717 Otisco St.  As a result, I do a lot of Alchemical tasks at the home site, including a large extent of propagation and potting for our annual plant sale.  In order to maintain the continuity and the sustainability of Alchemical and its projects, and the historical 10 years of effort that have gone into Bitternut and the gardens that Alchemical uses there, I am in the process of converting the homestead ownership from myself to a cooperative corporation.  This requires a large amount of my time as well in regard to networking outreach, recruiting, advertising, legal and accounting work, and more.  Once this conversion occurs, one of the other benefits will be that I hope to have a return of some of my time on this effort, as well a more balanced time commitment and recruitment from me at the Homestead due to having multiple owners, investors, and community governance.  This is important for you to know, because you are some of the possible community support members who may choose to invest in ownership and management of Bitternut to continue its efforts for affordable and ecological housing.  See the project details and prospectus at   https://bitternutcooperativehomestead.wordpress.com/

5) Alchemical is taking ownership of a new piece of property this Spring, and some of my time will also be shifted there, at least during the initial development stages.  HHQ has agreed to sale us the vacant lot at 711 Otisco St (which is actually in the middle of 610 Gifford, Bitternut, and the Depot spatially!), instead of them acquiring a zoning variance to build on this narrower than normal lot.  The plan is for it to become a community controlled commons space, under the guidance and management of 700 Block Committee of the Alchemical Nursery, which is possible thanks to the newest Board members starting this year – Tina Zagyva and Dustin Regner.  This will not be a new community garden, though we will have plantings, but it is intended to be a gathering place, a common area for outdoor meetings, or collection and distribution (We will likely be moving the Otisco St Little Free Library and possibly the Free Pantry to this lot location).  We don’t have many “third spaces” in our world as we used to, and I believe that every block should have one within site and shouting distance, so this is the model I’m trying to share here.

6) I’m taking control of as much of my time as I can strategically, and hoping that others will be able to contribute some of theirs in an equitable way if they believe in and support these projects, and want them to continue.  Here’s where you might come in:

  • We need more adopters for beds at Gifford and Rahma.
  • We need a Steward Lead for Rahma who can do event and session scheduling and facilitating.
  • We need more Board members, we have 5 and would like a minimum of 7.
  • We need you as a $1 per month supporting member, that’s only $12 per year from you.  If everyone on this email list gave $1 per month we would have $744, enough to pay for our annual administrative costs of insurance, website, and basic supplies.  Sign on at https://www.patreon.com/alchemicalnursery

Tanks for reading, thanks for your support, and thanks for believing in this vision for ecological lifestyles and landscapes in Syracuse.

~ Frank

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