Nutritious vegetables and sweet, juicy fruits will be grown in community gardens across Johnstown this summer, thanks, in large part, to the Alternative Community Resource Program.
ACRP, working in partnership with Lift Johnstown and the city, is financially supporting five different organizations with grant money it received from the Richard King Mellon Foundation in conjunction with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. The Christian Home of Johnstown (8th Ward), Sandyvale Cemetery Association and the Hornerstown community, Discover Downtown Johnstown, West End Improvement Group and Solomon Homes Tenant Association will sponsor gardens in their respective neighborhoods. Two of the gardens – 8th Ward and Sandyvale – were installed last year. The Discover Downtown Johnstown plot is ready for planting. Construction is underway on the West End site. The Solomon Homes project is in the final planning stages.
The participating groups were picked from approximately a dozen applicants.
“In choosing these five, we were very careful that it was going to be a group that could sustain them,” said ACRP Executive Director Frank Janakovic, whose organization operates its own community gardens in Moxham, Kernville and Tanneryville. “That’s the important part of this. Sustainability and neighborhood involvement, those were the two big things in the final decisions in choosing these five sites.”
The crops will be shared by members of the community. Some will be given to organizations that provide food to the needy. Other fruits and vegetables will be provided to the Greater Prospect Store Co-Op.
“Hopefully, it will be a good growing year for tomatoes and vegetables, and we’ll be able to help everybody,” said Rose Howarth, a leader of the West End Improvement Group.
Along with supporting the gardens, ACRP is using money from the grants to help clean blight. Last year, the organization made repairs, safety upgrades and appearance improvements to more than 250 properties in Johnstown and the nearby areas.
“What we want to be very careful in doing is making sure they’re for people that either don’t have the money, the elderly, or people that just can’t care for them, and not really cleaning them up for landlords that just don’t pay for it or maintain them,” said Janakovic. “That’s a delicate balance we have.”
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