Dan Mumford wearing a pair of work gloves and a bright fluorescent yellow T-shirt with “Clean Up ‘Cuse” picked up trash in rotten yellow leaves, shoveled litter in stacks and cut down dry, dead branches. Holding a wooden big clamp to pick up litter, he turned to his 5-year-old son and said, “Hey Andrew. Can you pick up that trash for me please?”
Mumford came to Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden, located at 3100 S. Salina St., Saturday, April 13, with his wife Lydia and his two sons, Andrew, 5, and Nathan, 2. They came to participate in the Clean Up ‘Cuse as part of an annual Earth Day event. The event is hosted by the city of Syracuse, in partnership with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency and the United Way.
Organizations involved in the city’s South Side clean up included The Alchemical Nursery, the Rahma Free Health Clinic, 100 Black Men of Syracuse and the Mary Nelson Youth/Community Center. People gathered together and did community service in the areas of the South Salina Street Corridor, East and West Pleasant Avenue and East and West Newell streets to Cannon Street.
The Mumford family has a strong connection with this neighborhood. The area especially holds precious childhood memories for Lydia. When they saw how the neighborhood needed some assistance, they came to help, said Dan Mumford.
Hoping his children learn more about the environment and the community, Dan Mumford brought his sons to the site.
“Doing something good and meaningful without getting a reward is good for their characters,” said Dan. “It is important for them to see us working and doing something good for the community.”
Lydia works as a teacher and deals with a lot of food dessert issues. The experience made the Mumford family think that living sustainably and eating local foods are good for the community, and it is one of the reasons why they came to do weeding and seeding to sustain the garden.
“The garden is important because it teaches people that they can grow their own food locally,” said Dan, who also has a garden, where they grow flowers and vegetables at home.
Frank Cetera, president of the Alchemical Nursery, a community-based regenerative lifestyle development organization, was in charge of the volunteer clean up efforts in the South Side of Syracuse. He has been involved since 2011, and this year there are about 10 sites of the city selected to be cleaned up. The volunteers to the South Side site also did some gardening at the snack garden.
He expected 60 or 70 volunteers from the community to participate.
“We expect we will have this place looking clean for the spring, a place for people happy to visit as the plants start to grow,” Cetera said. “ [We] just want to make a space for the community to come out and enjoy.”
Brandon Gunn, who works as a youth mentor at Bishop Foery Foundation, came to participate with other seven group members. Gunn came with four children from the organization and really enjoyed the activity. Gunn also mentioned that it is nice to see Congressman Dan Maffei coming to the site and helping out.
“We are based on the neighborhood. It is good to give back and clean up the neighborhood that we are from, ” Gunn said. “It is really well-organized. Everyone is nice and helps each other.”
– By Ruth Li, Graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications