Locals take on care of community garden

A community garden project for local residents of a low income housing community was officially opened Thursday night.

Spearheaded by local non-profit Our Towns 2010 and supported by Heart of Williamsport, the Second Street Community Garden Project is meant to help provide sustainable food to families in need and build and beautify the local community.

Thursday’s reveal of the garden, on the corner of Locust and Second streets at the Section 8 Substantial Rehabilitation housing community, came after six months of planning, according to Dallas Miller, treasurer for Our Towns, who said that the original plan was to have everything ready by May.

“We found out that planning it took longer than we thought,” Miller said. “You would think it would be simple for such a small space.”

A major reason for the project stemmed from the news that a local Weis Markets on West Third Street was closing.

“An awful lot of people who don’t have cars depended on it heavily,” Miller said.

During the months of planning, the project earned about $1,300 between monetary and material donations, such as tools. While the garden already has the tools, fencing, garden beds, plants and dirt, Our Town still is hoping for donations to finish the project.

“We are looking for final contributions for the shed and the picnic table,” said Nicole Herr, Fresh Food Lyco coordinator and member of Our Towns. “It could be done by the end of autumn if we had the contributions.”

At the reveal, local families were able to begin planting, and volunteers stood close by teaching kids how to care for the garden.

“We will also be utilizing this space to teach,” Herr said, stressing that people should make an effort to know where their food comes from. “When you are working in an urban environment, there is a disconnect when it comes to food systems.”

The project is the first of it’s kind for Our Towns, according to Miller. “We have been downtown oriented and all of a sudden we are doing community gardens,” he said. “This was a very different project for us.”

Our Towns hopes that the garden will not only help residents learn to grow and prepare vegetables but also will help bring the community together.

“Residents will spend more time outdoors maintaining the garden and interacting with other residents, which will foster a feeling of belonging to a community,” according to a project pamphlet.

As part of the process, residents told volunteers what they would like to see and what they didn’t like in the new garden.

“They need to be able to take ownership of their space,” Herr said.


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