Hollidaysburg, group seek funds for community garden

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A community garden that welcomes visitors into the borough is seeking new sources of revenue after a long-term sponsorship ended earlier this year.

The garden, one of two that are located at each end of the borough, sits at the juncture of Allegheny Street and Route 22. The other, located on Juniata Street, is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

A sign has been put up asking for new sponsorships and donations. Judy Wagner, senior director of gardens and greenspace for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said that each of the conservancy’s gardens run solely on donations.

“We have been extraordinarily successful with finding volunteers to help us with the actual physical labor – every one of these sites has a volunteer team – but the thing that we find most challenging is to raise the funds for keeping the supplies in place,” Wagner said.

Each year, both gardens are planted in late spring by local residents. Upkeep is also typically maintained by volunteers, said Rick Pope, director of the borough’s water department and community facilities.

Wagner said most people might not understand the process that goes into creating and maintaining these gardens.

“I think most people don’t realize the cyclical nature of this,” she said.

Wagner said it’s hard to predict the exact needed funds year-to-year, which is why the conservancy asks for “visual donations,” where a corporate or individual sponsor would commit to funding the project in exchange for being recongized at the site.

They have tried to gather averages in the past, Wager said, but because the size varies so widely among the gardens, it was hard to find an accurate one.

“We don’t have a handy-dandy number per site,” she said. “We didn’t want to get into that kind of inaccurate estimate.”

Those who cannot donate funds could donate labor and volunteer to till the sit or to provide other needed services, she said.

The Allegheny Street garden was first planted in 2001, Pope said. Before that, the triangle-shaped area that houses it was essentially a pile of rocks.

Now, when in season, it makes for a much more attractive entrance to Hollidaysburg, which “makes people happy to come to town,” he said.

“It’s the entrance to the borough,” Pope said. “It just makes it look so much nicer.”

Wagner said that community gardens tend to encourage involvement from residents, and helps them feel a deeper sense of ownership to their towns.

It can be the first step for people looking to become more involved in their communities.

Pope echoed the sentiment, saying that that the planting dates each year – currently scheduled for May 17 at the Allegheny garden – bring people together.

“It’s just a nice activity for the whole town, to just to show some pride in the community,” Pope said.

For more information on how to get involved with the community garden, call 412-586-2394, or, Pope said all interested volunteers are welcome to attend the planting day.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.