College Student Looks To Build Community Garden

A hand-drawn map shows a proposed design for a community garden in Rebecca Park in Clearfield Borough. The project is being proposed by Penn State student Rachel Duke as part of her capstone requirement. Duke is hoping to work with local businesses and the Clearfield Borough Council to make the project a reality. (Photo by Kimberly Finnigan)

CLEARFIELD – A local college student is looking to bring a little home-grown goodness to Clearfield Borough.

At Thursday’s Clearfield Borough Council meeting, Rachel Duke, the 2016 Clearfield County Fair Queen, Pennsylvania State Fair Queen Alternate and Pennsylvania’s Miss United States Agriculture, presented her proposal for a community garden to be located at Rebecca Park.

In addition to her many agricultural titles, Duke is also a junior at Penn State University and is majoring in agricultural science. Duke said as part of her education, she must design and present a capstone project.

Duke said she is working to build a community garden in Rebecca Park and came to the meeting to ask for the council’s permission to pursue the project.

Duke said she would like to build a 150-by-50 foot garden, which would be divided into 4-by-8 foot plots in raised beds.

She said the garden would also offer additional attractions, such as an insect hotel, rain barrel water collection, a sunflower house, a sundial and an herb garden to help educate residents about agriculture.

“Many people know very little about agriculture and where our food comes from,” Duke said. “There are people out there who really think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.”

Duke said she has been making arrangements with local businesses for materials. She said she was also hoping to utilize the borough’s compost site for soil and compost.

If all goes according to plan, Duke believes she can construct the garden for about $5,000, which she will raise. She said part of the project includes forming a board of directors to oversee the garden once it’s completed.

In addition to teaching others about agriculture, Duke said the garden can be used to provide fresh produce to the local food banks.

Council Member Robbie Tubbs said he had several students come before the council during career day to pitch a similar idea. He said he could put Duke in contact with the students who would be very excited to help with the project.

Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott introduced Duke to Todd Banks of Stiffler, McGraw and Associates, and Todd Kling, the street department foreman. She said both would be very helpful.

Kling said he would like to personally thank Duke for taking on the project and for choosing Rebecca Park. He said he has invested a lot of time and effort into improving Rebecca Park and he would be willing to help Duke as much as he can.

The council voted unanimously to support Duke and her plans for the garden.


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