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Photo by Mel Hunt

Wellsville’s Fassett Greenspace: Fresh Food For The People

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From the Editor, 7/23/21, Photographs by Melanie Hunt Streeter

Everything Grown is For the Public, Dozens of Herbs and Vegetables

The intersection of Main Street and West Fassett Street in downtown Wellsville has always been the, ‘heart of town.’ The first tavern and public meeting place was the built on the lot, it was where a group of gentlemen gathered around a fire and decided to name the community Wellsville after an early settler, Gardner Wells.

A thriving hotel emerged on that corner lot and The Fassett House was the hub of activity in a growing Wellsville. The tavern survived until the mid 1970’s and housed the famous local hotspot called, “Buckwheats”, a place the baby boomers enjoyed with enthusiasm.

To many locals dismay, the building was condemned and torn town around the turn of the millennium. The empty lot was purchased by a local businessman and philanthropist who has since formed a local non-profit, Art For Rural America, that created what we have today: The Fassett Greenspace. For those who haven’t been to Wellsville in a while, it has changed the landscape dramatically with hundreds of flowers and plants, a water fountain sculpture, outdoor musical instruments and a mini-amphitheater is nearly finished.

A birds eye view of the Greenspace

To quote the the artist who designed the space, President of Art For Rural America Cassandra Bull, “The Fassett Greenspace is an amalgamation of art and agriculture.” This labyrinth style earth art is a working garden with a series of raised growing areas. The space was built with four foot walkways that are fully accessible to the handicapped; you can harvest all food from a wheelchair !!

Art For Rural America(AFRA) maintains this space for the community, they plant all the flowers for the beauty and the vegetables for the public to ‘gently harvest’ and enjoy. Currently the gardens are full of great stuff: The middle of the garden is the “Herb Ring”, surrounding the William Underhill water fountain sculpture. Dill, cilantro, basil, various mints, lavender, chamomile, lemongrass, oregano, and three kinds of thyme are just some of the herbs available. Cucumbers are coming on fast and furious, they are best eaten on site!

Swiss chard and cucumbers

There are still plenty of snap peas for the kids and you can relive that experience of pulling a carrot and eating it fresh from the garden. The swiss chard is not just beautiful but tasty and ready to be harvested to make way for a new fall planting. If you haven’t had fresh celery lately, you should really stop by and snap off a stalk or two, the flavor is eye-opening after years of eating commercial celery. The tomato patch is just starting to ripen, you could find a cherry tomato or two ready to eat…. Fresh sweet corn should be ready for eating in early August, albeit in limited supply.

Cherry tomatoes and musical instruments in the background

Dozens of businesses, community members, volunteers, and the Village of Wellsville have made this new landmark possible. Art For Rural America is always looking for new volunteers and are in the process of finishing the final phase of the project, an open air amphitheater. This part of the Fassett Greenspace will provide additional space for gatherings, live music, lectures, and more food!. Please consider financial support if you are able to help maintain and improve this community asset. Visit www.ArtForRuralAmerica.org


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