Towanda Healthy Kids Community Garden

July 6, 2012,  Adventure with Peter Rabbit:  Another great day with the kids; we took a garden tour while reading the tale of Peter Rabbit this morning.  When Peter was munching on lettuce and radishes, so were the kids, and then they found the parsley too.  Mr. Lyle was on cue while rummaging in the shed like Mr. McGregor...the kids loved it!  After the story we found a mysterious basket of zucchini muffins in the shed, apparently left there by Mrs. Rabbit. The muffins were a big hit with all of the campers and the staff.  

We picked our first harvest of zucchini today along with onions, peppers, basil, lettuce, and parsley.  Then we headed straight for the kitchen where we made sauteed zucchini with lemon zest and herbs, zucchini fritters with garlic and basil, and a great big salad for the campers and the staff.

The kids had a great time in the kitchen, and the food was a big hit with everyone!  (click for pictures ...)

Visit the garden:  (google map link)


June 30, 2012, Summer Planting Begins...

With thanks to the volunteer leadership working tirelessly to grow this project, an early spring planting of radishes has been harvested, the greenhouse construction and repair has been completed, and the summer planting has begun. 


(click for pictures ...)


August 5, 2011, Groundbreaking: The groundbreaking of the Healthy Kids Community Garden on 4th St. in Towanda was on April 8th.  The garden, and excitement, has been growing since then!  More than a dozen children, ages 5 to 15, from Bradford County YMCA day camp were led by Penn State Master Gardener Claire Borits on a visit on July 15.  "They've done all the planting," said Educator Thomas Maloney. “The kids decided what to plant in the garden."

The garden was started on property owned by Towanda Borough with a $7,500 grant obtained by Endless Mountains Resource Conservation & Development Council from the USDA.   The Council created partnerships with Northern Tier Cultural Alliance, the local YMCA,  PSU Cooperative-Extension, Penn State Master Gardeners and other local citizens to develop the “Healthy Kids Community Garden”. Towanda Boro donated water hookup labor and fee.

Borits gave 15 different herb plants to the children.  They crushed and smelled them.  “Borits is teaching the kids how herbs are used to flavor food instead of salt” according to Dibble. James Lacek of Towanda, retired forester, PA Bureau of Forestry, DCNR said "The kids are learning the names of the vegetables and how to use them in cooking."

Besides Lacek, the other volunteer coordinator is Lyle Harding, former director of USDA's Farm Service Agency, Bradford County.  “Both have excellent backgrounds in gardening and agriculture,” according to Dibble.  "The community garden has been an exceptional success in stimulating the interest of kids in various types of vegetables," said Harding.  The goal is to "get youth to eat healthier foods and to grow their own vegetables," Maloney said.

Dibble said the garden is much larger than she expected it to be. It measures 80 feet by 28 feet.  It also includes three raised beds, each measuring 4 feet by 12 feet.  The garden contains a variety that includes carrots, squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers & beets.

The children wrote messages to the YMCA after they had a snack of fresh broccoli from the garden.  Among them were the following.  “Today I learned that just like apples, peppers grow a flower before they grow the fruit.  The broccoli tastes softer and fresher.” said 11 yr. old Dayton Benjamin.  “I learned that you need 4 – 7 corn kernels in each place you plant corn.  Then put soil over so you can’t see the kernels.  I also planted tomatoes & peppers and picked rocks”, according to 11 yr. old Kara Chapman.

13 yr. old Celeste Sloss said “I learned how to plant seeds.  The broccoli was so tasty and fresh.... gardening is really hard, but it was cool.”  And, according to 10 yr. old Saige Yoder, “I learned that the fertilizer goes around the plant, not on it.  Fresh broccoli is better than any other broccoli.”

Some of the food will be donated to the T.A.C.O. food pantry.  Using money from the grant, other facilities at the garden are being added this year, including a water hydrant, a shed for tools, and a small greenhouse that will extend the growing season for plants, Maloney said.

Organizers are seeking volunteers from the community, including families and children, who can work in the garden in spring and fall, Dibble said.  A fall garden is being planned at the community garden.  If interested, contact Dibble at 268-YMCA.