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Trafford group seeks community garden on borough plot

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 10:09 p.m.

A Trafford citizens group wants to see a community garden created at the site of the borough's former municipal building and fire hall.

Sandy Asturi, coordinator for Reimagining Our Trafford, asked Trafford Council on Tuesday to allow the 1.2-acre triangular parcel — bounded by Duquesne and Edgewood avenues — to be used for a community garden that would be developed by Tim Dixon of Trafford, a licensed master gardener, and his students.

Dixon has proposed creating raised garden beds at the site across the street from Trinity United Methodist Church, 407 Duquesne Ave.

Council President Kris Cardiff said he is not opposed to the idea but it needs to be explored further. There had been requests in the past to use the parcel, but Cardiff said he could not recall why they were not pursued.

“It's more involved than saying ‘yes,'” Cardiff said.

The property would have to be insured if it were to be used as a community garden, Councilwoman Carol Morrow said.

The Trafford Economic & Community Development Corp. learned that when the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. deeded the property to the borough, it contained certain parameters for using the land, said Nicole D. Montecupo, president of the nonprofit. Because a fire hall was at the site, there is a possibility of chemical contamination there, Montecupo said.

Asturi said she would like to see council approve the garden this fall so Dixon could begin planning for the spring. The garden would give people the benefit of growing their own food and is a way to bring the community together, Asturi said.

When contacted after Tuesday's council meeting, Dixon, a master gardener for six years, said a soil test would be conducted by the Penn State Extension service before any planting would occur. Dixon also said raised beds would be necessary because the site contains a lot of concrete and he is not sure how far the roots could get into the ground.

Dixon said he created a community garden in Jeannette at a vacant lot at the corner of Clay Avenue and Seventh Street.

Although the parcel in Trafford covers 1.2 acres, only about half an acre can be used to make about 20 raised garden beds because of the steep terrain, Dixon said.

“You've got to follow the contours of the property to see what you have,” he said.

It costs about $5,000 to build a community garden, using fresh soil and certified organic treated lumber for the sides of the beds, Dixon said.

Making the dream of a community garden in Trafford a reality, however, will require fundraising. For the community garden in Jeannette, the Penn State Extension office provided leads to grant opportunities, Dixon said.

The raised beds would be rented for a nominal fee, such as $5 or $10 each for the year.

By at least charging a small fee, “that gives (users) a buy-in to take care of them,” Dixon said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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