CARMICHAELS – It was a bountiful harvest at the Flenniken Library garden this year.
Ruth Enci held up a photo of her husband, John, standing behind a library table filled with tomatoes, peppers, cauliflowers, cucumbers and squash and beamed. “And there’s more to pick every day – we grew cabbage, bok choy and celery, too. I’ve taken boxes of tomatoes and peppers to the senior center and people who come to the library are welcome to have some.”
Having a community garden at Flenniken also turned out to be a wonderful learning experience for those who came for story hours and summer reading programs and stayed to plant, tend and harvest, Enci said.
“The pre-schoolers planted beans in paper cups for one of their story hours, then got to watch them sprout on the window sill. They got transplanted into the garden and I ended up taking bags of green beans to the senior center from those plants. The vegetables were started by Carmichaels Service Learning students, and the children who came to the library helped plant them. We have four four-by-eight foot raised beds that were funded through Community Foundation of Greene County and it is amazing how much we grew,” Enci said.
Flenniken Library asked for $700 to build the boxes and received it from the foundation. The boxes were built and Enci and other volunteers got busy making a garden happen this spring.
“We got some really good soil and everything’s organic,” The only pesticide I used was on the cabbage, and that was cayenne pepper and flour and it worked,” Enci said.
After school let out in June the library partnered with the summer food program that is offered free throughout the county to kids attending Greene County Parks and Recreation camps, library programs and other designated sites during June and July.
This program is offered through the Greene County Summer Food task group in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Now that school has started, Enci and others are helping fundraise in the community to make sure kids don’t go hungry over the weekend or during the holidays. The Weekend Food Program is now available to all county school districts, thanks to funding from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership, Alpha Natural Resources, West Greene Lions Club, Community Bank, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Greene Valley Presbyterian Women and other businesses, churches and individuals.
Children with not enough to eat at home are discretely identified by teachers, and parents are contacted for consent. Nutritious, kid-friendly food is sent home in bags or backpacks to provide meals in a consistent manner so that those youngsters who receive them are ready to learn on Monday morning. The cost for each child is $5 a week, Enci noted.
“If your organization would like to donate to support children in your school district, or give to the general fund that supports all the schools, contact the Community Foundation of Greene County. And if you’d like to help with the garden at Flenniken next year, give me a call.”
For more information about the county’s Food Security Partnership meetings, (next meeting is Wednesday, October 23, 9:30 a.m. at Westmoreland Community College) or to donate to the Weekend Food Program, call the Community Foundation of Greene County 724-627-2010.