Community garden grows from Donora Library suggestion

August 29, 2014
Dennis Lomax, a Donora Library employee who manages the borough’s new community garden, tends to his vegetables Wednesday in Donner Park. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

DONORA – Community gardens were popular in Sacramento, Calif., when Donora Library clerk Dennis Lomax lived there before returning to his hometown of Donora about a decade ago.

Gardens also sprouted from nearly every farmable piece of property in Korea when he served there in the U.S. Army, said Lomax, who was eager to organize the first community garden in Donora this spring.

“It’s pride. It’s exercise,” Lomax said Wednesday, while tending to his plots of vegetables in the garden in Donner Park.

“You just can’t top gardening,” he said.

Librarian Donnis Headley said she approached the borough three years ago about creating a community garden after reading about them, never expecting it would end up located in a public park.

She said Lomax went in search of a location with a borough employee, leading to the decision to fence off an area of the park and construct raised beds for plants.

Lomax now manages the grounds, which attracted 15 gardeners in a $3,000 borough-funded pilot project that may be expanded to other areas of town, Donora officials said. The assortment of vegetables growing there range from tomatoes to ghost peppers.

“It’s a way of bringing people together to create a community,” Donora Council President Karen Polkabla said.

“We wish we could do it in more places,” she added.

The gardeners have created something gorgeous in Donora, Headley said.

“It just looks like a winner all the way around,” she said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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