In 2011, the idea of supporting a food garden behind the public library was born, and the buzz as to how “permaculture” * designed garden and landscape would add to the Monroeville Public Library. Library patrons already attend monthly programs on sustainability at the library, where this idea formed. Now, patrons can enjoy this garden each year. The food pantry garden started as an example of serving community in a sustainable way. Volunteers, after making application to be recognized by the USDA criteria, were able to certify that the place they volunteered to raise produce was recognized as a “People’s Garden”. Thus far, it is the sole People’s Garden in Southwest Pennsylvania.
For the last five years, the garden’s volunteers provided organic produce for the local community food pantries (hypertext link to Pittsburgh Post Gazette article). Initial support came from the Monroeville Foundation, assisted with money and materials by sponsors like Tyler Mountain Water and Municipal Solicitor Bruce Dice, Rutters Landscaping and Lowes. Garden volunteers are coordinated by founder and former councilwoman, Lois Drumheller. The garden organically produced organic fresh produce averaging 500 pounds per year. In 2014 820 pounds of organic produced assisted food pantries. A small group of volunteers distributed the produce equally to Pitcairn Food Pantry, Monroeville Assembly of God, Crossroads Presbyterian Pantry and Garden City Food Pantry. During it’s 5th year, the garden aimed its focus as a pollinating garden for the bees, also a People Garden mission. Until more volunteers are able to support another food pantry, the mission will focus on what we also need for the bees. Girl Scout troop 665 earned their 2012 Bronze Badge with actively planting, decorating around plants and creating recipe cards to accompany healthy produce in 2012 to those in need. The garden is a also a bed of learning for all ages. To learn more about volunteering, visit the Monroeville Public Library.