As summer on Long Island is in full swing, some Freeporters are looking forward to spending time outdoors, walking the Nautical Mile, fishing, or gardening. Spending time outside is more than just a summertime hobby, but a craft she, Freeport resident, Kristin Elmore, has developed over the past four years.
Freeport resident was inspired to bring the Food is Free Project to her hometown, a nonprofit dedicated to creating community gardens that provide free produce for all who are interested. After learning about the organization online, Elmore thought this was something Freeport as well as surrounding towns could benefit from.
“I (knew) could totally do that,” Kristin said recalling the first time she planted her first four squares of vegetables in her backyard in 2013.
By researching gardening tips online, Kristin grew tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables in the beginning. Now, four years later, her trial and error gardening skills have grown her garden to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, like watermelons and eggplants, to herbs like basil and perennials like goji berries.
Part of the Food is Free Project is to not only raise awareness about locally grown food, but also to provide organic, free produce to those in need or interested in the program. So, every summer for the past four years, Kristin has sat behind a plastic folding table on the corner of Park Avenue and Centre Street in Freeport, with a big white sign reading, “Food is Free Project, Please Take One.”
Laid across the table are vegetables and fruits of all kinds, as well as seedlings people can take in order to start gardens of their own. This part of the project is designated to bring people together, even if they wouldn’t be together otherwise, Elmore said.
“The whole purpose of the movement is to try and build community, to encourage your neighbors to grow their own food as well and share, and talk to each other,” Elmore said. “Other people bring plants and tomatoes-whatever they might have to donate and share — I love that it’s working.”
Standing underneath a canopy on the side of the road, Kristin was excited for yet another Food is Free Friday in Freeport. She had a variety of potatoes, eggplant seedlings, lavender, and even “surprise tomatoes”, which she said were donated by someone looking to give away extras. The location of the table sits at the intersection of a stop sign, sparking the interest of onlookers. One resident, Neisha Smith, stopped to take a look at the watermelon seedlings, where she was excited to take them back and start a garden of her own.
“I didn’t get to plant my own plants this year. I saw Kristin last week and I asked her, ‘can I come back next week?’ and she said ‘sure,” Smith said. “It’s great for people who want to go organic with no pesticides; it’s great.”
Angela Taormina and Melody Alberti, supporters of Elmore and her efforts, believe this movement will stick around Freeport for a while.
“It’s [Food is Free Project] incredibly powerful and I hope it flourishes like the gardens she tends,” said Taormina. Alberti added that Elmore has been an asset to the community and is thankful for the new friends she has made as a result of this project.
Elmore’s food projects generally run every Friday from 1-7 p.m. on the corner of Centre Street and Park Avenue in Freeport. She encourages people to bring whatever they can to the table- food.