Community garden set to sprout at pocket park in Clarks Summit

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com
Representatives from The Gathering Place, Keystone College’s Environmental Education Institute, and Verve Vertu Art Studio planted a community garden at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7. From left, first row, are Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations and Clarks Summit Borough President Gerrie Carey. Second row, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Clarks Summit Mayor Herman Johnson and Clarks Summit Borough Councilman Patrick Williams. - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal
Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio, left, assists Clarks Summit resident Selena Waters, of Verve Vertu, with the planting of a vegetable at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7. - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal
Clarks Summit police officer Kevin Yetkowskas stopped by to plant a vegetable at the pocket park June 7. - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal
Michael Hungarter, Kingston, a Verve Vertu Art Studio student, rakes the soil before the vegetables are planted at the pocket park in Clarks Summit. - - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal
From left, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Shaun Lambert, of Springbrook Twp., Verve Vertu art student; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations; and Selena Waters, of Clarks Summit, Verve Vertu art student, plant flowers at the pocket park in Clarks Summit. - - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal
Emily McHale, of Harford, an employee of Verve Vertu Art Studio, labels vegetables to be planted in Clarks Summit’s pocket park. - - Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

CLARKS SUMMIT — A new vegetable garden at the pocket park on Depot Street is meant to serve a dual purpose.

Grow nutritious foods and bring people together.

The Keystone College Environmental Education Institute (KCEEI) received a $10,000 Community Needs Grant through the Scranton Area Foundation to plant several community gardens as a way to introduce people to growing food locally.

Representatives from KCEEI, The Gathering Place and Verve Vertu Art Studio joined together to construct and plant the garden June 7.

“It’s a connection between different organizations that all have a singular purpose, which is creating a community for everyone,” said Gathering Place board member and program coordinator Paula Bailli

KCEEI Director Sharon Burke approached members of the Gathering Place in Clarks Summit with information on the grant and it turned out to be a great match.

“Sharon said this might be right up your alley and it just took off,” Baillie said. “Sometimes, things naturally come together if you’re open to it.”

According to KCEEI Coordinator of Operations Nancy Petalver, the purpose of the grant is to bring local and homegrown foods and garden beds to local areas so (residents) can learn how to grow their own food.

“Research has shown that people who are exposed to more fresh vegetables are more likely to eat them,” Petalver said. “It’s a way to help introduce it to the community.”

Art students from Verve Vertu and members of the Craft and Chat program at The Gathering Place are expected to maintain the garden.

Verve Vertu is an arts apprentice studio for individuals with emotional, physical and intellectual developmental concerns.

Craft and Chat is described as a casual setting where artists with and without special needs can come together to create and relate.

“This is such a perfect community endeavor,” said Gwen Harleman, art director at the Dallas-based Verve Vertu Art Studio. “When anything is a win-win for everybody, it goes smoothly. We’re really excited about having this connection to Lackawanna County.”

Harleman believes the garden will serve as a valuable teaching tool for the students at Verve Vertu.

“It shows proper nutrition because we’re putting in really delicious greens and Swiss chards,” she said. “We can go over wellness components and it gives them an idea of where food comes from. People think they just go to the grocery store, but someone had to grow it.

“It also shows them how a community works by supporting the garden and taking care of it, and also getting to meet people when they come by.”

Per Harleman, the plan is to have a harvest and lunch at the end of the season in August.

“It’s not only meant to be beautiful, it’s also meant to be physically, emotionally and spiritually nourishing,” she said.

Representatives from The Gathering Place, Keystone College’s Environmental Education Institute, and Verve Vertu Art Studio planted a community garden at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7. From left, first row, are Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations and Clarks Summit Borough President Gerrie Carey. Second row, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Clarks Summit Mayor Herman Johnson and Clarks Summit Borough Councilman Patrick Williams.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-1.jpgRepresentatives from The Gathering Place, Keystone College’s Environmental Education Institute, and Verve Vertu Art Studio planted a community garden at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7. From left, first row, are Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations and Clarks Summit Borough President Gerrie Carey. Second row, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Clarks Summit Mayor Herman Johnson and Clarks Summit Borough Councilman Patrick Williams. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio, left, assists Clarks Summit resident Selena Waters, of Verve Vertu, with the planting of a vegetable at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-2.jpgGwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio, left, assists Clarks Summit resident Selena Waters, of Verve Vertu, with the planting of a vegetable at the pocket park in Clarks Summit June 7. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

Clarks Summit police officer Kevin Yetkowskas stopped by to plant a vegetable at the pocket park June 7.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-3.jpgClarks Summit police officer Kevin Yetkowskas stopped by to plant a vegetable at the pocket park June 7. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

Michael Hungarter, Kingston, a Verve Vertu Art Studio student, rakes the soil before the vegetables are planted at the pocket park in Clarks Summit.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-4.jpgMichael Hungarter, Kingston, a Verve Vertu Art Studio student, rakes the soil before the vegetables are planted at the pocket park in Clarks Summit. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

From left, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Shaun Lambert, of Springbrook Twp., Verve Vertu art student; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations; and Selena Waters, of Clarks Summit, Verve Vertu art student, plant flowers at the pocket park in Clarks Summit.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-5.jpgFrom left, Emily Rancier, Gathering Place board member; Shaun Lambert, of Springbrook Twp., Verve Vertu art student; Gwen Harleman, art director at Verve Vertu Art Studio; Nancy Petalver, KCCI Coordinator of Operations; and Selena Waters, of Clarks Summit, Verve Vertu art student, plant flowers at the pocket park in Clarks Summit. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

Emily McHale, of Harford, an employee of Verve Vertu Art Studio, labels vegetables to be planted in Clarks Summit’s pocket park.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_ABJ-Pocket-Park-6.jpgEmily McHale, of Harford, an employee of Verve Vertu Art Studio, labels vegetables to be planted in Clarks Summit’s pocket park. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

By Robert Tomkavage

rtomkavage@timesleader.com

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.