The Garden Table Urban Garden in Wilkinsburg, PA

The Garden Table urban farm and garden located in Wilkinsburg, PA is meant to be an example of urban blight rehabilitation, with an emphasis on recycling and food production. We aim to prove that community gardens do not require deep pockets, only a little bit of ingenuity and creative resource management.

We strive to emphasize diversity in plant selection, highlighting plants that would not normally be incorporated into a community garden including ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. We want to display all types of plants working in harmony, we are not creating a garden… we are creating a miniature ecosystem with the human element full integrated.

Community gardens should do more than yield food… They should be beautiful gathering places that yield friendship, peace and love.

The Garden Table has three main goals

  • To feed anyone who is willing to ask.
  • To educate anyone who is willing to listen.
  • To inspire anyone who is willing to grow.

So I recently became a Penn State Master Gardener and for my final project I worked with a team of other new graduates to green a vacant lot in Wilkinsburg, PA. We had problems from the start and in May we were still looking for a suitable lot, we finally received the ok to begin in June and hit the ground running. This post is meant to be an introduction to our garden paradise, I hope to be able to show you in person some day but for the time being, this will have to do.

Initially we had issues with our soil samples containing high levels of lead, we checked 5 or 6 lots and got denied on all of them… One of the lots had a lead level of 1558 ppm. It wasn’t until June that we found a lot that we could both sign a lease for and not have to live in fear of lead poisoning.

When we received word that we could start we brought out the chainsaw and spent a day cutting down trees and clearing brush, we were able to time this a day before our borough had its Spring cleanup so all we had to do was drag the debris to the street. This lot was also infested with garbage, bricks and concrete, we bagged and removed a few bags of garbage and sorted and inventoried the bricks and foundation sandstones… I re-used everything that I could…

We finally had enough built to start planting around the end of June, since then we have created a diverse mix of vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. I will go into great details about this garden in the future, this post is just an intro.

The garden has really blossomed from idea to reality faster than I ever could have imagined, it seems like we have been working on it for years but in reality its only been 5 months. We have a garden chef who has cooked the volunteers dinner every Thursday night we have had a work night, these work nights have become a favorite of our master gardeners and volunteers.

This garden year culminated in an open house and harvest party that was attended by 50 people, our garden chef cooked a feast, and plenty of other dishes were provided by the attendees. The entire evening despite having the first hour interrupted by rain, went off without a hitch to the delight of all involved.

I feel our garden produced the greatest yield I could have ever dreamed of, a close and well-balanced group of friends that plan to stick together through another year at The Garden Table. I will forever be grateful to this small group of master gardeners, whatever possessed them to join the crazy guys group from the hood is beyond me… I just hope they are happy with the great things we all accomplished together.

plants grow from my earth – I pick them to share with friends – friends grow from my plants. ~ Tony Condello ~

Peace – chriscondello

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