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

Traveling Seed Hub

With great thanks to the #CooperativeGardensCommission at Cooperative Gardens Commission we have received a seed hub package in the mail to distribute locally! These will be available at all of the Alchemical Nursery and Bitternut Homestead on Otisco Street community events, including our Earth Day activities, our regular volunteer work sessions at the gardens, and even our open workshops at the Depot. Plus anywhere else we happen to be present for an event or activity. The bulk seed packs are meant to be divided into smaller packs as you need for your own garden (we have coin size envelopes for that purpose for you to use). In total, the amount contained in all of these bulk packets on average, can provide 300 family-sized seed bundles. #cooperatives #seeds #seedhub #syracuseny

The Depot in 2022

Take a look back at 2022 scenes from The Depot. Want to volunteer and/or join as a member to use the services and tools in 2023, send us a note at info@alchemicalnursery.org and we’ll get back to you. Follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheDepotAt713MarcellusStreet and keep an eye out in your email box for Alchemical’s monthly-ish e-newsletter for further details and events.


  1. Interior designer to plan our tool and workspace layouts.
  2. New wrench sets (2)
  3. Flooring materials
  4. truing stand
  5. White paint or other leftover paint (contact us with what you have)

Adopt-A-Bed Today at 610 Gifford St Community Garden

As we continue to transition the 610 Gifford Street Community Garden to being majority perennial based plantings, we have implemented an Adopt-A-Bed program trial this year that is meeting with some success. Over 5 years in, since the formation of the 610 Gifford garden, numerous founding members have either moved from the neighborhood or taken their use of time elsewhere, resulting in a need to reduce labor and inputs to sustain the viability of stewardship of the site. Although we still welcome annual beds, we are focused on perennial beds, and have 5 people now who have adopted at least one of them!

Frank has adopted the rhubarb bed, which also includes some plantings of herbs including chives and bergamot underneath a yellow fruiting dogwood. Susan has adopted the strawberry border bed facing Gifford St. Kathy has adopted the native wildflowers bed planted in the right-of-way strip along Gifford St. Ursula has adopted the two pallet strawberry beds in the interior of the lot. And most recently, Carrie has adopted a new strawberry bed adjacent to the other interior strawberry beds and next to the highbush cranberry, where we are removing mint and expanding berries!

Why are perennial beds easier to maintain and adopt? The plants are usually more drought tolerant, and don’t require regular watering over the summer. The plants have a permanent place, making it easier to identify weeds that are growing around them, and reducing the need to clean them out and replant them every year. And, they are pretty much guaranteed to produce a product for harvest every year! We have lots and lots of rhubarb, strawberries, and mint year in and year out no problems, and we can all share with each other when it is harvest time.

Want to get in on the fun? Here’s some beds looking for an adopter:

The Sorrell Bed
The Kale Bed
The Raspberry and Asparagus Bed
The Redbud Beds
The Herbs Bed
The Native Raspberry and Sunchoke Bed

Get in touch, or show up Saturdays at 11 am during the fall/winter/spring seasons, call or text ahead to double-check that we’ll be there, everyone sets their own schedules. Adopters will be asked to visit their beds at least 1-2 times per month. We’ll teach you what else you need to know for care and harvest.

2022 Annual Fundraiser Plant Sale

Plant Sale Orders Due by Wednesday 11:59 PM for Saturday Pick-up

Alchemical and Bread and Rose’s 5th? Annual Fundraiser plant sale, supports our Near Westside community gardening projects. Plant sale final week, orders due by 11:59 PM on Wednesday Night, pickup window 11 am – 2 pm on Saturday; pick-ups can also be made after Saturday by scheduling.


Natives and edible perennials: berry bushes, shrubs, rain garden plants, ferns, herbs, and perennial vegetables! Some house plants and gardening supplies may also be available this year.

Proceeds benefit the urban planting work of The Alchemical Nursery Project and the Bread and Roses Collective. Please support local grass-root groups committed in promoting urban sustainability!

Recognizing ongoing constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are once again practicing the email ordering and curbside pickup model we used last year to continue this event safely.

Please place orders online by messaging us (through this event page) or emailing (info@alchemicalnursery.org for ANP tagged items OR jess.maxwell@me.com for BNR tagged items) with the following info:

1. Plants and items you’d like to purchase from the inventory (include source from either B&R or ANP, sizes, quantities, and price each). Please provide your email address so we can send you a virtual invoice for you to make payment prior to pickup. Ordering will close at 11:59 pm on Wednesday May 4th.

2. Indicate your choice of Pickup location on either the Westside of Syracuse at The Alchemical Nursery at 717 Otisco St, or the Eastside of Syracuse at Bread and Roses at 405 Westcott St.

3. B&R will also host an in-person sale this year 11-2 at 405 Westcott St.
Our 2022 inventory can be viewed at the following link. Please post on this event if you’d like more info or photos of a specific plant, or if you have any other questions that may apply to other customers. (The inventory may not be exhaustive of plants we can propagate for you – if you’re looking for something specific, please ask!)


Orders will be put curbside in front of 405 Westcott St or alongside 717 Otisco St for pickup anytime between 11 am – 2 pm.

MENTION: Greater Syracuse Land Bank Newsletter November 2021

. . . . .

Read the full profile by visiting the newsletter online at https://mailchi.mp/038993670a1a/january-newsletter-5128333?e=[UNIQID]

MENTION: Scaling up Agroforestry North American Conference 2021

Session A: Urban Agroforestry

Gary Wyatt University of Minnesota Extension – Recognizes our quality educational and interpretive signage at the Rahma Edible Food Forest Garden during this year’s conference

Tour of the Rahma Food Forest Garden with Frank Cetera

Many of you were instrumental in the design, development, and management of Rahma Food Forest Garden over the years, come out for a tour to see how things stand. And learn how you can help with the next phase of development as we work to stabilize the understory beneath our canopy.


If you can, become a supporting member at www.patreon.com/alchemicalnursery

Harvest Announcements Now Available via SMS Text Messaging

Scan this QR Code with your Smart Phone to sign up for our garden site harvest notifications through the growing seasons!