A few weeks ago, I discovered a beautiful urban village pocket park.
Having checked out a book at the nearby Winton Branch Library, I found an ideal reading locale: a bench with a backdrop of color and greenery in the Linear Garden on North Winton.
There I met Marty Voise, a lifelong resident of the North Winton neighborhood, sprucing up and watering. Marty said he’s enjoyed tending this as other neighborhood gardens for about twenty years, having helped build a mini-garden nearby on East Main. Proud of the community effort that keeps the garden looking good year round, Marty suggested I meet the other gardeners at the North Norton Village’s Tenth Annual Festival of the Arts.
Today the garden was surrounded by music and vendors. Jimmy Highsmith, Jr. and Fatima featured a rich musical lineup; while the large gathering feasted on about a dozen food options from local restaurants and cafes. And Marty was right. Several gardeners were there, happy to talk about their labor of love.Peggy explained how her involvement began in about 2000. Back then, the land was owned by Chase Bank and often used as a dog walking park. Peggy said some neighbors worried about unleashed dogs. So the group set up removable orange breaker fences. Building the fences inspired the dog walkers to get more involved in the space which then only had a trampled down grass path.
Over the years, flower beds, vegetable plots and a gravel path were added. Today, Peggy and I looked out upon an urban oasis Peggy calls “her refuge.”
Father Robert Schrader of the Peace of Christ parish said members of his community often volunteer in the garden. Father Schrader described the garden as a meditative place — an island of peace — where people can find quiet and beauty amidst the bustle of North Winton.
RPD Officer Mitchell (who took the bench picture) says 10 years ago the space was more like a weedy lot. Since then he’s watched as trees planted by neighborhood children have grown tall just like the children. On his patrol, Officer Mitchell always sees lunchtime eaters and literary loungers enjoying the benches.
Marilyn Parchus offered a brief history of the garden (below), including the creation of the sign and welcome gate about five years ago with special help from the City of Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Marilyn mentioned the ongoing commitment of Bob and Karen Olyslager, Marilyn Schutte and many others.
Elizibeth Clapp, co-owner of Le Petit Poutine was at the Festival with her food truck. A big fan of Linear Park, Elizabeth thinks attractive oases draw shoppers and strollers to commercial districts like North Winton.
And newcomers admired the garden. Along with Christina Baker, Jennifer Gorankee and Kay York (pictured above) volunteered at the Coffee Connections’s booth at the Festival in support of International Overdose Overdose Day.
From East Rochester, today was Jennifer’s first visit to the garden she described as simply beautiful. Now also living in East Rochester after having moved here from Pittsburgh just six weeks ago, Kay York says the North Winton Village is one of many cool urban locales she has discovered. So far for Kay, Rochester feels like a mini-Pittburgh in which Park Avenue and the South Wedge remind her of Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville district.