GROW Jamestown Brings Together Lovers of Gardening

The Mike's Nursery crew at last years GROW Jamestown Garden Fair.

Contributed by: Eric Zavinski

The Mike’s Nursery crew at last years
GROW Jamestown Garden Fair.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation has been spearheading the GROW Jamestown initiative in order to ensure not only that homeowners can enjoy growing their own produce and beautifying their own property, but so the gardening and landscaping trades also grow in the local community.

GROW Jamestown for 2018 is slated to take over just about all of the Northwest Arena on Saturday, March 24, from 10a.m. until 4p.m. Since its beginning, the event has grown from 14 to a now truly community-wide list of 54 vendors. This year, Grow Jamestown also aims to top last year’s mark of 2,007 visitors from the surrounding area.

A Community Effort

Grow Jamestown is very community-based. We’re trying to make Jamestown better a little bit at a time,” said Mary Maxwell, JRC’s neighborhood project manager, expressing pride in her city. The event relies on enthusiastic community volunteers for its success. “We take it all and coordinate it,” Maxwell said. “This is really run by volunteers.”

Those volunteers include master gardeners, members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Northwest Arena staff, the Jamestown Skating Club and Wegman’s, who will donate 500 grocery bags for guests’ to carry home goods and supplies from vendors.

Reliable Sponsors

One special item guests can carry home in their pouches, as in previous years, is free tomato plant seedlings ready to plant, courtesy of the title sponsor, Mike’s Nursery on Fairmount Avenue in Lakewood. Grow Jamestown is billing this year’s event as “A one stop shop to get your home and gardens ready for the spring season.”

More Hands-On

Residents of Jamestown attending the event will be encouraged by GROW Jamestown’s Front Garden Recognition Program to go even more hands-on with their efforts this July, in which volunteers will survey yards and recognize the ones that represent great gardening and beauty the best.

This will celebrate citizen gardeners who raise the curb-appeal value of neighborhoods all across Jamestown. Last fall, according to Maxwell, the program sought to canvass all of the approximately 12,000 front yards in Jamestown in order to nominate 500 for the honor of having their healthy gardens acknowledged.

A lot of times it’s a surprise,” Maxwell said, “to see how pleased homeowners are to learn their yards have made the cut. GROW Jamestown signs in local front yards mean volunteers had to make sure each yard and garden had healthy, actively maintained plant life as well as a well-groomed lawn.

Reuse to Revitalize

A big part of GROW Jamestown, according to organizers, is the “reuse” corner of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” triangle. In GROW Jamestown, “vacant lots and underutilized spaces” can be made more productive as well as more attractive.

Community gardens are a prime target for this program, recalling the earliest days of the First World War when American cities encourage the introduction of community gardening, creating an initiative that continues day.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) and the Chautauqua County Health Network will provide demonstration gardens in this neighborhood garden spirit.

The two current demonstration gardens can be seen at the Lakeview Avenue Community Garden and Washington Street Community Garden. For a cost of only $10 a 4 by 12 foot plot can be rented for growing garden-fresh food. Renters take a community vow to pick up litter, turn over compost, and otherwise maintain the gardens. The waiting list opens on April 13. Contact Jamestown Renaissance Corporation for more information.

More than Gardening

Jamestown Gazette readers with a gardener’s green thumb will not be the only ones who find gardener’s gold at GROW Jamestown. The GROW Jamestown Garden Fair and Home Show will also feature multiple craft and home improvement vendors, activities for kids and food for visitors. The show will also include Do-It-Yourself presentations and workshops for gardeners.

Though often billed as a “do not try this at home” event, live chainsaw carving will make another appearance this year and add a raffle for guests to win a freshly made carving. Vince Liuzzo of Sherwood Arts Complex, Inc. will be carving wood for everyone to see and will donate proceeds from the raffles to the St. Susan Center.

Plan the Day

Plenty of workshops at the Garden Fair – five of which take place in the morning – make it wise to plan for the entire day.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., Adrienne Ploss, the owner and operator of Hickory Hurst Farms, will be showing guests how to garden veggies, fruit and herbs for container gardening on decks and patios. Bringing more than 25 years’ experience as a horticulturist, Ploss is sure to teach a thing or two to those who come to her workshop.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Lori Brockelbank, a certified arborist, will show residents how to plant trees and how to specifically select certain kinds befitting their environment and how to care for them.

During these workshops, kids will be entertained as well. “As long as supplies last, painting rocks and pots will be free for kids,” said Zach Agett, JRC’s marketing and events manager.

Along with the painting for the kids, “Monarchs and Munchkins” will be available for little ones from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Betsy Burgeson of Chautauqua Institution will take youth through the process of butterfly gardening and show children how to get the monarch butterfly further reintroduced to gardens everywhere.

At the same time, Nancy Jager will explain how to prevent wildlife from damaging gardens, such deer chewing on gardener’s plants. Matthew Brewster will instruct guests on how to install natural and manufactured stone veneer to frame gardens.

Larry Kestner will take the workshop floor and show people how to build raised flowerbeds and grow vegetables using the square foot gardening technique. Also at 12:30 p.m., Trisha Lehnen will show how “virtually anyone” can compost using the “start small” bin method which she promotes. Melanie Smith will talk about invasive species and how they are nothing more than other plants and animals from someone else’s backyard. Twan Leenders, the president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of National History, will offer a presentation on how one’s backyard does not exist in a vacuum.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., Master Gardener Jim Cowan will go through the basics of vegetable gardening, and starting with the right seeds.

The final workshops are scheduled for 2:30 p.m., featuring both Cheryl Wahlstrom discussing preservative techniques such as canning and freezing freshly grown fruits and veggies, and David Moller, who will discuss sustainable wind and solar energy options for any homeowner.

Another Initiative

GROW Jamestown is also related to Hands On Jamestown, another volunteer-led community program that aims to ensure the beauty of the local city. Activities include planting flowers and cleaning up litter. Volunteers from all over the region get involved every year.

Readers can look forward to the upcoming Hands On Jamestown cleanup and beautification projects and find updates for GROW Jamestown projects on Facebook at

Check for updates there, too, regarding the Great June Seedling Giveaway. In that month, some greenhouses dispose of unwanted veggie seedlings, so in the second week of June, approximately 5,000 seedlings are given away.

Learn More

Jamestown Gazette readers are encouraged to not only visit JRC on Facebook, but to log on to, call 716.664.2477, or just stop in at 301 E Second St, Suite 301
Jamestown, and say hello.