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Tarentum Friendship Garden planning spring cleaning, planting day |
Valley News Dispatch

Tarentum Friendship Garden planning spring cleaning, planting day

Brian C. Rittmeyer

The ground may still be frozen and lightly covered with snow, but organizers behind the Tarentum Friendship Garden have their eyes on spring.

The garden, located next to Dreshar Stadium along First Avenue, will enter its fifth season this year.

To get ready, the annual spring cleanup and planting day is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 6.

The summer planting day is set for the same hours on Saturday, May 18.

Those interested in helping can bring their own tools and gloves and just show up, said the Rev. Phil Beck of First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum, an organizer of the loosely affiliated group that oversees the garden.

“There is plenty of work to be had,” he said.

The garden’s bounty is freely available to anyone, from anywhere. Those who take from it are asked to help maintain it, but are not required.

The garden was allowed to lay fallow over the fall and winter, Beck said. The spring cleanup will include general cleaning, placing mulch, replacing some of the 28 raised beds, and planting spring vegetables such as spinach, sugar snap peas, lettuce and beets that can withstand a light frost.

There wasn’t much food waste last year, but Beck said it wasn’t a good year for tomatoes, among the garden’s most popular crops, because of all the rain.

Other popular crops include Swiss chard, lettuce and kohlrabi.

Fruit trees and plants, including blackberries, are planned to be added this year, along with more flowers to attract beneficial insects, Beck said. An Eagle Scout is planning to build benches at the garden.

There are also plans for cooking and canning demonstrations to be held at the garden to help people learn how to make use of what’s grown there. Recipes will be posted to a board at the garden.

Greg Blythe, pastor of Abundant Joy Fellowship and a founder of the garden, will be memorialized at the garden this year. Blythe was 62 when died in November.

Beck said the memorial will include placing a plaque and planting a pear tree in his honor.

The garden will not be renamed for Blythe, as Tarentum Council had previously discussed. Beck said they don’t believe Blythe would have wanted that, and the current name had been his idea, reflecting his wishes for the focus to be on the community.

“We felt it was important to continue to honor that original intent,” Beck said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

The Tarentum Friendship Garden on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. A spring cleanup and planting day for the community garden, entering its fifth season this year, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
A free pantry of dry goods is available at the Tarentum Friendship Garden on First Avenue. Residents are asked to contribute to the pantry as they can, and are able to take from it as they need. Photographed on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
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