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On-site garden at Hamburg Gaming brings about a sense of community

HAMBURG, N.Y. — The Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment team at Hamburg Gaming recently wrapped up its on-site gardening effort, which not only reached new heights in its second year but also raised money for the Food Bank of Western New York.
Led by Food and Beverage Supervisors Wendy Welch and Katy Koster, a group of volunteers — made up of associates from the gaming venue and their families — got the garden up and running in May. The team increased the number of beds to 35, working from the foundation set by then-Executive Chef Brian Sterner (now a divisional chef for the operating company), who launched the gardening initiative at the gaming venue last year.
The beds this year were made up of a variety that included herbs, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, green beans, strawberries, blueberries, kohlrabi, eggplant, sweet corn, tomatillos, pumpkins and cabbage. The produce — grown in a greenhouse in the winter and then transferred to the raised outdoor beds — was all grown from seed, with the exception of the strawberries, blueberries, raspberry bushes and herbs, which were planted last year.
Volunteers helped prepare the existing beds after the winter and then built the additional beds before the planting process began. After planting, volunteers came out each week for weeding and picking. The produce was then donated each week to a nearby food pantry for local families in need.                                                                                         
In late August and September, the volunteers operated a vegetable stand during Hamburg Gaming’s automobile “cruise nights,” with proceeds — more than $555 – benefitting the Food Bank of Western New York.
Angie Gominiak, a cocktail server at Hamburg Gaming, was among those who volunteered with her family.
“I like being able to spend time with my kids while helping with a good cause,” she said. “I like seeing how it motivated people in our community to donate after seeing the yield of hard work by our volunteers. Guests were so happy that they were asking about next year!”