Creating a garden in the community helps draw Aspinwall residents closer

| Thursday, July 11, 2013, 10:36 a.m.

The Aspinwall Community Garden grew out of luck and good timing for those involved.

Deanna DiGioia recently had moved back to the borough and was looking for something to put on property she owns at 31 Fifth St.

At the same time, a group of residents were trying to find a place to start a local community garden.

Both got just want they wanted.

“They took over, and it's been phenomenal,” DiGioia said.

Before finding the plot in Aspinwall, organizers had considered locations in Pittsburgh.

Heath Asbury said they much preferred to find a spot in their own town, though.

“We figured we'd do that if nothing else, and then this thing came through,” Asbury said.

Work began in May. Rain barrels were built, and four private and two community boxed planting areas were built.

Asbury said the overall plans for the garden still are being worked on but organizers imagine a mix of private and public beds.

“One thought would be to have some beds where people can rent plots and then other beds where people can do more of a community farm,” Asbury said.

So far the garden includes tomatoes, kale, eggplant, various types of beans, turnips, cucumbers, melons and a raspberry bush. The garden also will feature a flower bed lining the street.

With the basic work of creating the first garden beds, the first group of participants hope to get more people from the community involved.

“The hope now is just to get more people into it,” Asbury said.

The biggest time commitment was the efforts needed to get the garden up and running, Heth Turnquist, one of the first participants, said.

“Really, the work was up front,” Turnquist said.

Asbury said the rainfall in recent weeks has caused the garden to grow fast.

He also credited the borough for helping with wood and soil needed for the site.

Turnquist said he would like to add an educational angle to the garden. DiGioia said the environmental club at Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy could be interested in working at the garden.

For information on the garden or how to participate, find the group's Facebook page by searching for “Aspinwall Community Garden.”

Information is also available on the borough website at

Asbury said he has high hopes for the garden's future.

“The possibilities are endless,” Asbury said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513 or

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