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.