Food

New garden takes root at Barth Elementary in Pottstown

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Mosaic Pottstown community garden manager Laura Washington helps Barth Elementary students put tomato plants in a garden plot. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the school’s new community garden Friday. Michilea Patterson — Digital First Media

By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury

POTTSTOWN >> Barth Elementary students got down and dirty when they planted tomatoes in a new community garden.

Local organizations, school district representatives and community members came out to the official ribbon cutting ceremony June 10 for the garden which is located right next to the school. The shining sun and blue clear sky made it a perfect day to get growing.

Dave Garner, of the Mosaic Community Land Trust Board, said there’s been talks for a while about doing a garden with the school district. He said there was a meeting at Barth this past January which got things in motion. The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness foundation provided a grant toward the project. Garner said construction began the end of February.

“In just a couple of months we made this all a reality,” he said.

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The community garden has 23 plots available for use. Garner said there are two bigger plots that he hopes will be used as part of the school’s curriculum with nutrition education. Barth Elementary classroom aid Cory Derer said kindergarten students have already started growing seeds indoors and they keep a journal of the process.

“It’d be really neat to transfer them from in there to out here,” she said.

Barth students aren’t the only individuals that have the opportunity to plant in the new garden. Garner said although Mosaic will oversee the area, the hope is that the community takes the reins when it comes to upkeep.

“We’d really like for the neighborhood and the school to take over and actually run it,” he said.

He said the garden will allow residents to grown their own fresh food in a great location that gets sun all day long. Mosaic has also provided water pumps at the garden. Garner said if the garden is a success then there’s a phase II plan to expand it.

If the Pottstown School District is awarded the $2.4 million Physical Education Program grant then even more gardens might spring up at other schools, said district wellness coordinator David Genova.

The grant is through the Carol M. White Foundation and is awarded to education agencies and community-based organizations. The funds must be used toward physical education programs that include healthy eating instruction.

Genova said the district will find out in September whether they’re awarded the grant. He said the garden at Barth is not only great for students but also for the Pottstown community as a whole.

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