Funds Donated to Local Community Gardens

Standing, from left to right, are Betty Kruger, West Leithner, Mike Herzing, Tiffany Gausman, Denise Michalowski, Steve Marconi and Keith Miller. Seated are LeRoy Kopp, Kindra Aschenbrenner, Sandra Von Hacht-Lawrie and Linda Kopp. (Provided photo)

Standing, from left to right, are Betty Kruger, West Leithner, Mike Herzing, Tiffany Gausman, Denise Michalowski, Steve Marconi and Keith Miller. Seated are LeRoy Kopp, Kindra Aschenbrenner, Sandra Von Hacht-Lawrie and Linda Kopp. (Provided photo)

ST. MARYS – Recently, community members from Headwaters Charitable Trust, Local’Motion, Leadership Elk County and Grace Episcopal Church came together to discuss implementing community gardens.

At the event, New Horizons Healthy Foods and customers made a generous $600 contribution towards community garden construction, outreach and materials.

The group discussed proposed locations and aim to have three functioning and accessible community gardens across Elk County up this summer.

Grace Episcopal Church of Ridgway already has 15 available garden beds, where harvests either go to the plot grower, local food bank, or the Ridgway high rise apartments.

LeRoy Kopp, owner of New Horizons Healthy Foods and president of Local’Motion, feels that “community gardens are a great way to help beautify the community together, build community pride, bring multiple generations together and help to ensure a degree of food security for Elk County residents.”

Headwaters Charitable Trust also received the $1,000 United Way Venture Grant to support marketing and material needs for agricultural initiatives.

A partnership between Local’Motion, Headwaters Charitable Trust, and Leadership Elk County are steer-heading the joint “Back to Our Roots” projects, a title for all upcoming agricultural initiatives. Beyond community gardens, these initiatives will also include the creation of a community supported agriculture coalition among local farmers.

The decision to jumpstart local agricultural initiatives stemmed from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation’s 2015 Long Range Planning Report. County-wide interest in community gardens was the most popular idea, receiving the most community comments and feedback.

“We used the Report to identify projects that both fit within our mission and met with community demand,” says Heather Conrad of Headwaters Charitable Trust and the Stackpole-Hall Foundation.

Headwaters Charitable Trust is a non-profit with a main office in Curwensville and a satellite office in St. Marys. The Trust has worked with many communities in the PA Wilds over the last 26 years on projects that promote economic development through partnerships and jobs leading to a green economy.

For more information on community gardens and community supported agriculture, or if you would like to volunteer or make a donation, please contact Kindra Aschenbrenner at kaschenbrenner@hwct.org or via phone at 503-997-8146.

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