PLYMOUTH TWP. — Joseph Gentile and Michelle Van Kirk see a community garden established by the Earth Conservancy in 2000 as an opportunity to feed their family of six throughout the year.
In their third year of participating in the garden, the Plymouth couple grows a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, sugar snap peas, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and sunflowers.
“I just started gardening three years ago,” said Gentile. “And it’s a lot of fun.”
The garden provides about 20 eager gardeners with plots and water at no charge to plant a variety of vegetables they will harvest in the fall.
VanKirk, a more experienced gardener, said she has gardened for many years and remembers her mother gardening.
“It’s also a way to teach kids responsibility,” she said. “They come down after school’s out.”
Although the couple has come up with a system which enables them to work quickly and efficiently, they are not afraid to try new things.
“This is our first year for potatoes,” said Gentile, adding a neighboring farmer has provided them with words of encouragement and advice. “We started them in our basement.”
Bill Koza, of Pittston, also enthusiastically makes his way to the property to plant a variety of vegetables he will use throughout the winter.
His canning favorites are tomato sauce and peppers and his first gardening effort was inspired by the Pittston Tomato Festival.
“I’ve won several awards over the years, including several for biggest tomato,” he said.
Koza also plants cabbage, zucchini, butternut squash, onions, broccoli and bell peppers.
“I put oatmeal in the ground under the roots,” he said. “It makes the plants healthier.”
He said the trip from Pittston to Plymouth Township, which he makes “about every other day,” is well worth it.
“I can remember my mother and my grandmother planting,” he said. “So it seems natural.”
Elizabeth Hughes, of the Earth Conservancy, said the garden is consistent with the organization’s mission of mine land reclamation, conservation and economic development.
“I see the community garden fulfilling this mission not only by benefiting residents’ well-being,” she said, “but also making good, environmentally-friendly use of former coal mining lands.”
To garden participants, the summer season will be an opportunity to work hard, gather with family and look forward to a rich harvest.
To Gentile and VanKirk, who both work full time, the garden, which is off the beaten path, provides a chance to get away from the busyness of life for a few hours and experience a bit of quiet and simplicity.
For more information, the public can contact Earth Conservancy’s community garden at 570-823-3445 or email [email protected]
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLNews
For more information about the Earth Conservancy’s community garden, call 570-823-3445 or email [email protected]