Give the ‘green’ thumbs up for Pottstown Home Garden Contest

(THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2015)

 

Pottstown >> The Mosaic Community Land Trust is requesting that residents put roots down in the borough for the 2015 Home Garden Contest.

 

This is the 3rd year for the contest and different from last year, the entire borough is eligible to participate.

 

“The great thing about this year’s contest is that it’s bigger than it’s ever been before,” said Laura Washington, Mosaic Community Garden manager.

 

She said just like eligibility, prizes for the contest have also increased. There are more than $2,500 cash and gift certificate awards.

 

Anna Johnson was one of the 2014 contest winners. She won with the window boxes and greenery she plants in front of her home. She said the contest helps residents get some appreciation for the gardens they create.

 

“I think it’s a great tool for community spirit…it shines a light on these little gems in our neighborhood,” Johnson said.

 

Residents can enter both container and in-ground gardens for the contest. There are four categories this year. Youth under the age of 18 can enter into the junior gardener category where the top prize is $100. The residential front or side yard garden category has a top prize of $250. The residential back yard garden category also has a top prize of $250.

 

Anna Johnson was one of the 2014 contest winners. She won with the window boxes and greenery she plants in front of her home. She said the contest helps residents get some appreciation for the gardens they create.

 

“I think it’s a great tool for community spirit…it shines a light on these little gems in our neighborhood,” Johnson said.

 

Residents can enter both container and in-ground gardens for the contest. There are four categories this year. Youth under the age of 18 can enter into the junior gardener category where the top prize is $100. The residential front or side yard garden category has a top prize of $250. The residential back yard garden category also has a top prize of $250.

 

“That’s just a small box that hangs on from the windowsill on the outside of their home or apartment,” she said adding that the boxes can be used to plant herbs and flowers.

 

She said there are also many ideas for container gardening. Items such as whiskey barrels or totes can be repurposed for planting.

 

“People have planted sweet potatoes in a tote and have reaped a very great harvest by doing that,” she said.

 

She said individuals that have a small plot of land in the front or back of their home can easily transform it into a garden.

 

“They can set up a few rows, cultivate the soil and grow fresh vegetables,” Washington said.

Johnson said beginners shouldn’t be afraid to start gardening. She said it was trial and error for her at first.

 

“Don’t be scared to mess up because that’s part of the process. Dig a hole, put your seeds in and watch them grow,” she said.

 

Johnson said gardeners learn along the way and there are resources available at the Pottstown community gardens.

 

Washington said residents that need help with gardening can leave a message at the Mosaic website mosaicclt.org as well as visit the gardens.

 

“We offer workshops that residents can attend to find out more about the basics of gardening,” she said.

 

The garden at 615 Chestnut St. will host a workshop about planting a hay bale garden May 31 from noon to 1 p.m. Washington said there are plants and soil available at no cost to those who need it. The community gardens also have whiskey barrels available for residents to use this year.

 

“The family is able to plant into the whiskey barrel and also use that barrel to enter into the contest,” she said.

 

Washington said the community gardens are there as a resource so residents can experience the many benefits of gardening. She said one of the most important advantages of growing your own food is that you know what you’re eating. She said people also save a lot of money when they grow their food.

 

“Tomatoes right now might be $1.99 a pound while a tomato plant cost about the same but it probably reaps on average about 20 pounds of tomatoes by the end of the season,” Washington said.

 

Washington said gardening is great way for families to interact and engage with one another as well as get everybody outdoors.

 

“The kids can be involved and learn about their environment,” she said.

 

Washington said the community garden efforts are meant to provide residents with a healthy alternative to processed food that contains a lot of fat and high fructose corn syrup.

 

“We hope that childhood obesity and family obesity is decreased while family engagement is increased in our area,” she said.

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