Volunteers make gardens accessible

Tony Fluharty, 21, of Warren, with Youth Build, left, and volunteer Dave Hank of Howland, set forms for the handicap access to the elevated gardens at Garfield Gardens Thursday morning.

WARREN — Gardeners with disabilities will be able to use the Garfield Community Garden this season, thanks to new elevated gardens and a brick path.

At the corner of Woodland Avenue NE and Perkinswood Boulevard NE near the old Garfield school, a group of volunteers came out Thursday to build elevated gardens that will be accessible to people with handicaps or other disabilities who can’t work on their knees or reach the ground. The gardens will be arranged in a U-shape around the path, allowing gardeners to sit in the center and be able to reach all the plots.

Linda Palm, 69, of Warren, one of two master gardeners at the community garden with Danita Davis, 63, of Warren, said the project first began last year when garden organizers applied for a Raymond John Wean Foundation SUCCESS grant and a Trumbull 100 grant, which they received. The total cost of the elevated gardens and the walkway came to about $3,000.

When it came time to bring in volunteers, Palm said she called YouthBuild Trumbull County after several friends recommended the organization. Manager April Platt said she thought the project would be a good opportunity for the kids. YouthBuild is an education, training and leadership program for young adults serving about 62 participants, four of whom came to help with the project on Thursday.

“This is our first time with the community garden,” Platt said.

The elevated gardens were built by David Hank, 70, of Howland, who was at the site to teach the students how to pave and place bricks while keeping the work lighthearted by cracking jokes and telling trivia. The bricks and other supplies were provided by Trumbull Cement Products Co.

In exchange for helping make the project a reality, a portion of the gardens will be allotted to YouthBuild for the staff and students to use in the upcoming gardening season. Some of the students who volunteered at the project said they help with gardens at home and are looking forward to gardening in the future.

“I’ll help with the garden even after the program’s over,” Racheal Miller, 21, of Warren, said as she helped lay bricks for the path.

Another student, Tony Cefalo, 17, of Cortland, said his previous experience with gardening mostly revolved around pulling weeds out of his mother’s garden, but looked forward to being able to participate in the community garden.

“It could be nice coming down here once in awhile,” Cefalo said.

Last year, Palm said the garden had 31 families participating, with up to 40 expected this year. On any given summer day, Palm said people can walk by the garden and see people gardening, toddlers playing nearby, people walking their dogs or having lunch. Although weather was a concern in finishing by this afternoon, the volunteers were able to complete the project by 2 p.m. Thursday.

“They did a good job, I’m very appreciative,” Palm said.

ddye@tribtoday.com

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