Community grows garden in Carmichaels

June 14, 2013
Ruth Enci, a volunteer gardener for Flenniken Library in Carmichaels, works with the dirt in a garden box. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CARMICHAELS – Last year, a small community garden in a patch of not-so-optimal soil was started with the help of the children in the story time program at the Flenniken Library. Despite the less-than-perfect conditions, the green thumbs of local gardeners Ruth and John Enci helped it produce quite a bounty.

For this growing season, Ruth, along with library director, Linda Orsted, applied for a grant through the Greene County Community Foundation. They were awarded $700. Using part of those funds, Enci’s husband and neighbor, Gary Metcalf, built sizable boxes to grow the plants.

“It is a real education for the kids. It teaches them where their vegetables come from,” Enci said. “Hopefully this will grow and maybe inspire people to do their own gardens.”

No pesticides or insecticides are used in the garden. Enci said she has found planting marigolds to be a good natural deterrent to bugs that would eat the plants. The first of the garden boxes is currently filled with transplanted beans raised inside the library by the story time children. Other plants came from the Carmichaels Area School District Life Skills Class Greenhouse.

Enci said she hopes in the future the students will have an opportunity to make a trip to the library to plant seeds.

The project is something that families and the community at-large can take part in, according to Enci. Volunteers to pull weeds and water are always welcome. A future plan, still in the early stages, is to hold a farmers’ market-type event at the library where donations would be accepted for the vegetables raised there.

In what Orsted called a serendipitous twist, the public library theme for 2013 is, “Dig into Reading.”

“It wasn’t intentional. It is just nice that it worked out that way,” said Orsted.

Orsted said the gardens have really been a community effort with people stopping by to help. One of the families made and put up the scarecrow that stands watch over the gardens.

“We are having a program to go along with this grant. Miriam Ruben, who writes the gardening column for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette will be here at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 to speak about her new book, “Tomatoes,” Orsted said.

She noted that the community garden project will be the swan song for her career with the Greene County Library System. Orsted has accepted a position in her home state of Minnesota. Assistant Director Jessica Miller will serve as the interim director until a new director is named for Flenniken.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the community garden project can call the library at 724-966-5263 or Ruth Enci at 724-966-5454.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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