project leader
Frank C
713 Marcellus Street, Syracuse, NY
(Near Westside)
latest update rss
First clean-out scheduled for volunteers this Saturday at 12:15!

the project

During the spring and summer of 2019, a competing bid was put to the Syracuse Land Bank to purchase a mixed use residential lot at 713 Marcellus St that was trying to be acquired by a commercial interest to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot".  The bid was won by the grassroots efforts which included letters of support from neighborhood residents, and organizations such as Syracuse Grows, and Rahma Free Health Clinic. 

The full site will be used for growing space and as a materials depot for topsoil, compost, and raised bed materials; while the former 700 sq. ft. residential structure on the rear of the site will be converted into a multi-purpose storage and access location to facilitate sharing of tools and resources for gardening, bicycle repair, and home landscape repair and maintenance.

The site is structurally sound, and will primarily require clean-out, window and door repair, porch removal, basic handyman repairs, and lighting through a 12-volt solar system.  


the steps

The Steps:

We're ready to roll, in fact ,some of the steps that don't require funding, such as some of the identified work items that only require volunteers, are already underway.  Once we succesfully fund, we'll hold a special event at the site in June to celebrate, grill up some veggie dogs and burgers, and invite the community to come learn about the project further, and hopefully sign up to volunteer.  Work efforts will be scheduled for bi-weekly calendar weekends from June through November.  The Project Manager will coordinate ordering materials, and the Volunteer Coordinator will communicate with people and organizations. 

Clean-out, door and window repair, along with yard and landscape, are scheduled to be completed by the end of August.  Electric and skylight installation by end of September in anticipation of shortening daylight.   Special project of Rasied Beds Mutual Aid will be undertaken immediately upon reception of funds, and will be ongoing until all materials are distributed.

We expect that the sharing platform will be operational starting in September following the clean-out and baseic repairs.  

why we're doing it

"Food sovereignty", a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996, asserts that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution. This is a basic need negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the short- and medium-term. Disruptions to food sovereignty include: Increased unemployment, Increased demand for grocery store stock, and strained supply logistics to restock stores.

To help achieve resilient food systems, Alchemical Nursery is providing garden resources and services through its COVID-19 Response Project campaign which includes a holistic array of resources and services including:

  • Virtual Gardening Tutorials
  • One-on-One Gardening Advice over email/phone/video conferencing.
  • Syracuse & CNY Seed Share platform,
  • Tool sharing and education,
  • and Raised Beds Resources Assistance (proposed in this application). 

In this proposal we seek funding to provide safe soil, building materials, transportation of materials,education for raised bed food gardens, structural/utility/security renovations to the tool shed; prioritizing those in greatest need due to financial and health vulnerability according to UN (ref1) and CDC (ref2) guidelines.

We are fortunate to live in a productive and progressive farm region, but this does not resolve issues of access within our region and of need in less food secure sub-regions such as very low income urban neighborhoods. Food, fiber, medicine, fuel may all be much more challenging to procure with a health and economic crisis and strains on supply chains in the short- and medium-term. Upstate farms can provide those key ingredients for happy and healthy humanity, and increasing home food gardens can reduce the burden on our region’s farms and enable them to help broader areas. Home and community gardening also has significant co-benefits including:

  • Physical health through outdoor exercise;
  • Better nutrition through nutrient dense foods;
  • Ready access to herbal remedies (e.g. Elderberry for flu treatment, see ref3 below);
  • Mental health through a sense of purpose and fulfillment doing vital work at a time when many occupations and habits are disrupted and strained;
  • Assistance meeting household budget by reducing costs associated with food and potentially transit to stores;
  • and safety by minimizing the need for store visits and reducing the burden on food distribution points.

The immediate need of soil, and access to tools and other supplies, to start raised beds, food landscaping, and other food garden features will have near- and long-term benefits addressing a variety of basic needs. Food crops such as radishes, lettuce, and certain herbs can be ready for harvest in as little as 30 days. In addition to supporting beneficiaries’ immediate needs, this raised beds program will improve home food security for years and possibly decades to come.




Ref3: Zakay-Rones et al. 2004,

Basic needs being addressed:

  • Food: nutrient dense, local food with minimal inputs and reliance on supply chains 
  • Mental Healthcare: outdoor exercise benefits, sense of purpose, cultural ecosystem services
  • Healthcare (including medication): elderberry, echinaceae, nutrient dense food
  • Safety: minimizing need for store visits, reducing burden on food distribution points
  • Transportation: reducing costs associated with transit to stores
  • Other: increasing regional resilience to food system disturbances


1.1 Clean-Out (Contractor Garbage Bags) $50 
1.2 Clean walls and floors $50
1.3 Removal Side Porch $0
1.4 Appliance and Large Item Removal  $200
1.5 Exterior Doors - East/West  $600
1.55 Windows Repair  $1,000 
1.6 Smart Lock $200
1.7 1080P Sony Exmor Sensor (TVI/AHD/CVI/1200tvl) 2.8-12mm Manual Zoom HD Security Camera  $300
2.1 Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit  $350
2.2 IP20 LED Flex Strip X 2 60LEDs/M High-Density Neutral-White 4000K Full Reel 16.4-Feet  $100
2.3 14 in. SUN TUNNEL Tubular Skylight with Rigid Tunnel, Pitched Flashing and Solar Powered Night Light  $525
3.1 Seeding native grass lawn $30
3.2 Compost for leveling $90
4.1 Acquire Topsoil: 5 cubic yards @ $32 each = $160; Compost: 5 cubic yards @ $23.95 each = $119.75; Delivery to our depot: 2 Loads @ $65 each = $130
4.2   Acquire Pre-Cast Beds: Stonegate Designs Galvanized Raised Bed — 6ft.L x 3ft.W. x 1ft.H, Model# HYX-170922 @ -$59.99 each @ 15 beds = $899.85, Shipping at $158.03
4.3  Acquire Loadhandler Pickup Truck Unloader: Standard Full-Size Model, 2,200-Lb. Capacity at $119.99, Shipping at $15.99
4.4  Acquire Wrenches/ Screwdrivers/ Shovels/Tarps: provided by Alchemical Nursery
4.5  Transportation: 5 deliveries of two beds/compost/topsoil in 25 mile round trips, requiring 125 total miles driven @ $0.50 per mile = 62.5 5 deliveries of one bed/compost/topsoil at 25 mile round trips, requiring 125 total miles driven @ $0.50 per mile = $62.50
4.6  Groundcover: Zero cost, we will source free cardboard from commercial entity recycling bins.
4.7  Seeds: Zero, we have sourced donations of seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. 50 packets at $3.25 per pack equals $162.50 value.

ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $163



First clean-out scheduled for volunteers this Saturday at 12:15!

The first step to the new Gardening and Bicycling Center for tool and knowledge sharing is the clean-out. Join us this coming Saturday May 23rd from 12:15 - 1:45, there will be pizza! (please RSVP so we can order enough :>)

Not child friendly inside at this time to work clean-up; you will need to wear hard closed toe boots or shoes, gloves, long sleeves and pants, and face masks, I would also recommend eye protection just to be safe. We will be removing trash, debris, sharps (needles), tires, and more. Exterior clean-up for everyone! Same safety PPEs need to be worn.

Goal Reached on an Incredible Saturday in May

We surpassed our goal of $5,422 with a $50 donation at 12:51 pm, and then another kind soul boosted us to $5,454 at 6:25 pm.  Aside from that we had a super-duper turnout for our Spring Garden Service Day and International Composting Week Extravaganza Compost Corner Renovation!

9 hardy souls came out to enjoy the brisk weather, and in the snow and sun, biult a 3-stall compost system out of pallets we re-used on site, laid out a couple hugle beds from our brush pile, and built them up even more with a neighbors sticks and leaves from across the street, a neighbor brought us a dozen doughnuts, we dug and shared strawberry plants with out volunteers, and we toured the Marcellus St site of the Garden and Bicycle Center!  All in all, y'all rock for getting us this far.  This spring is going to be a blast, look for a first clean-out day at the project site within the next couple weeks.

$293 to Go - Connecting with the H4H ReStore

Thank you for continuing your donations, even after the match funds ran out; this does take us longer to reach our goal, but being so close, I'm hoping we can finish this up by the end of the weekend.  In other good news, we've connected with the Habitat 4 Humanit ReStore and Exeuctive Director who is interested in providing us with material donations for the restoration, we couldn't be happier.  The ReStore is literally only 4 blocks eastward and one street over on Otisco.  I shop there all the time for materials for our own home, and am excited for this opportunity!  This means, we'll save some costs from our budget, and your dollars will go further to assist with other purchases!

Only $388 to go, with out match funding though :>(

Match funding has officially run out from the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge pool, but we are thankful it helped us get to over $5,000 so quickly.  However, that leaves us with $388 to go, can you donate today to help us close-out this campaign sooner rather than later?  This weekend is cold and snowy, but next week might start the stratech of warm weather we need to get started with the clean-out and renovations, better to be doing that than sitting at a computer fundraising don't you think?  Thanks everyone.


Today we got email notice that the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge matching funds are quickly running out, and since they are on a first-come first-served basis, we need to as many donors as possible ASAP as we can to ensure that your donation is matched 100%.  When I found this out, I made my personal donation to the project, which I was waiting to do later on, which is what you may be doing, but, as our tagline at Alchemical Nursery Project originally read - "The Time Is Now!".  Please make your contribution today, in any amount you can afford, because it gets doubled!  For a limited time.



One of the items we already own that doesn't get nearly enough use, and that we'll be so excited to offer up for borrowing at the Center is our bright yellow trike!  This trike has a drivers seat, and two passenger seats, plus a small cargo area under the seats.  It has 3 gears.  It wopn't get you anywhere fast, but is guarantted to be a great time, we've used it in neighborhood parades and offered rides at community events.  What could you do with it?  The trike is a Workmans Cycles model - see more at


We had an amazing donation today, a 14.5 volt/15 watt solar panel, inverter, 12 volt power tools that can charge from it, and a couple other accessories! We'll be completely off-grid when we open, with lights, security cameras and locks, tool charging, and audio system for music all operating off of solar charging and batteries!  And of course, than you for our newest financial donors as well, as we inch closer to our goal!



So Many Software Options

The first Google search of rlending library software returned lots of findings.  I'm only going to post the top four here, as in the first for at the top of the search page.  As for which one is tops for us?  That is yet to be determined.  We would love to hear from anyone out there who has experience with any of these platforms, or if you know of another platgform that we should consider.  And if you've got the volunteer bug for this project, anyone willing to review the multiple platforms and provide a chart comparisons of features, pros and cons?


It Was a Busy Weekend

It was a busy weekend keeping on top of out spring plant sale fundraiser, we've doubled the number of pots we sold last year, and have extended to two pick-up sites!  So apologies for not getting another update out sooner.  We are at 22% of our goal though, so please if oyu donated, consider sharing on your social media, or in your email groups at this time.  Sales for ou rplants fundraiser end at Wednesday 11:59 pm, so we'll look to kick this campaign into the next gear at that time.  We did a lot of our potting up this past week at our 610 Gifford St Community Garden, which will no doubt benefit greatly from the new Garden and Bicycling Center which will be located only two blocks away.  Here's a pic of the corner of Ontario and Gifford Streets in full daffodil bloom!

Tool Donations Coming In Too

We are soooo fortunate and elated at the level of cash donations coming in.  After only 3 days we are at 20% of our initial fundraising goal.  But there is another way you can donate as well.  You can share your unwanted, used tools to our share shed!  Spring is usually a prime time for cleaning out the garden shed, the garage, the basement, the attic, etc.  We will take your garden tools and equipment, your hand tools, your mechanic tools that can be used on bicycles, and your miscellaneous tools.

Such as, a pair of jumper cables.  We are appreciating Katie and Joe Barrett today for their drop-off of these rakes, shovels, wrench sets, buckey organizer, other odds and ends, and the jumper cables.  Take a picture of what you have to donate and send to and we'll be in touch to make arrangements.

4 bicycles & gardens ~ Frank


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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