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Digging Our Community Roots

By Michelle Pittman and Michael Buck

In honor of Earth Day, we decided to get out of our own backyard and see what was growing around town.

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The answer, it turns out, is a lot.

For those folks who don’t have the inclination or space to start their own veggie patch, there’s always the option of joining a community garden. Easton is currently home to 10 (yes, 10!) such gardens, some run by the city, others by the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership.

One of the community gardens is located at Fifth and Ferry streets, and another at 10th and Pine streets. The city-run gardens are in the 900 block of Philadelphia Road at the Easton Neighborhood Center and on Wood Avenue at the Lower Hackett Community Garden.

At the community garden and 10th and Pine streets, Cathy Stoops gave us a quick tutorial on how to make a home composting bin that uses worms to break down household waste and food items into nutrient-rich material. It was delightfully squishy. (If you’re interested, the WWNP can get you more info on worm gardens.)

Jim Sandt, a former commercial farmer from Plainfield Township, and Derek Staggs, a young apprentice gardener from Easton, were fine-tuning the irrigation system for their hoop house — a pipe and plastic structure that helps plants brave the elements and extend the growing season by two months in either direction.

Jim, who got involved in the community garden program through St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church in Plainfield Township, said the hoop house’s irrigation system uses rainwater collected at a neighboring house to water the plants, which include tomatoes, lettuce and peppers. The best part? The water is “pumped” in by gravity. No additional resources required. Very Earth friendly.

The beauty of the community garden, according to Sophia Feller, who heads the community gardens initiative for the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, is that there’s a variety of ways to get involved. Some folks prefer to pay a small fee to tend their own plot; others join gardens where there’s a community consensus of what gets planted and everyone gets to share in the harvest.

While we’re waiting for our vegetables to come in, we’ve got fresh, live herbs growing in the kitchen. They really add a lot of flavor to everyday dishes, like the totally unprocessed Black Bean Pizza Burgers we’re making at Feaston. Put them on your menu!

To find out which Easton community garden is right for you and to learn how to get involved, contact the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership at 610-515-0891.

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