WEST PITTSTON — For many borough residents, the new community garden isn’t just a place to plan vegetables or flowers —it’s also a place to plant memories and friendships.
The West Pittston Community Garden broke ground in June and has become a place for residents who don’t have property for a garden of their own to grow whatever plants they desire.
Residents, such as Lynn Burbank, are growing vegetables such as butternut squash, string beans, kale and Brussels sprouts while Victoria Lucas is growing pumpkins, sunflowers, and green beans.
Lucas said she’s never had a garden of her own, and the community garden is a way for her to learn the process through the other residents.
“The one thing I learned is what you can grow in certain time periods,” she said. “We got a really late start, and we couldn’t grow certain things because we only have a certain amount of time before the frost. I was also taught what kind of ground you can grow stuff in. I was taught I can’t grow carrots in this ground.”
“It’s too rocky,” responded fellow West Pittston resident Tom Bubul. “There’s too much heavy clay.”
The community garden was an idea stemmed from the formation of West Pittston Tomorrow in 2012, whose goal is to help the borough recover from the flood of 2011.
The 1,000 square foot garden sits on Race Street where a flood-damaged house once stood, but was torn down in 2014.
According to Burbank, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made recommendations on what to do with buyout properties damaged during the flood.
“When FEMA and PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management) finally approved for (the borough) to lease out the land, West Pittston Tomorrow came and got the lease,” she said. “We had to get insurance on the land and then we started.”
Although the garden was coming to fruition, there were still a few setbacks, such as getting a water system installed.
“There was no water here,” said West Pittston resident Kendra Rogers. “We had to install a whole new water system because it was taken out of the house. That put us back about a month or so.”
A hose is hooked up to water for residents to water their plants, but the water is turned off at night to avoid it running all night and racking up a high water bill for West Pittston Tomorrow.
The water will be turned off completely in October, according to Bubul, when the frost kicks in.
“The garden itself never really shuts down, just the water,” said Burbank.
With the garden up and running, there are currently 15 spots being used by residents, with six more still six open.
Although the garden is only 1,000 square feet, additions will be made to it to make it 18,000 square feet, according to Rogers. Those additions will be completed next spring.
Residents interested in acquiring a spot may reach out to West Pittston Tomorrow and pay a fee for how big they want their garden to be. They maintain it for one year, then pay an annual fee to keep their spot.
Should the garden, even with its additions, become overcrowded and more space is needed, Bubel said West Pittston Tomorrow will look to acquire more space in the borough.
“That would be an ideal, lovely situation that we could spread to other parts of town,” added Rogers.
With a few months remaining until the weather changes and the garden begins to slow down, the residents are enjoying what time they have left to, not only to grow their plants, but their friendships, as well.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know these people that I’ve never met before,” said Lucas. “I moved here (from Falls), I wasn’t originally from West Pittston, so I didn’t really know a lot of people. And our (mine and Kendra’s) kids got to know each other.”