A $75,000 Catalytic Grant from Neighborhood Allies supported the long-term sustainability and community ownership of the Gardens of Millvale
“It has been our goal to create an economically and environmentally, sustainable Gardens of Millvale. To do so, we needed interns, land acquisition, professional assistance, and financial support. With support from Neighborhood Allies, all of this was possible.”
The Gardens of Millvale (GOM) were built on a piece of land in the floodplain right off of Girty’s Run that was purchased by, and is now protected from redevelopment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This secures the Gardens of Millvale original space as a permanent asset for Millvale and its residents, without the threat of redevelopment. Across from the FEMA protected space, in a series of parcels where the garden has grown and expanded sits the “Community Garden”. This plot of land is home to 25 individual, family and community plots and a hoop house. The area consists of multiple lots once occupied by many houses which were destroyed by a fire and obtained by the Borough. Even though these parcels are also located in the floodplain, they were not purchased by FEMA like the original garden site, and were therefore, eligible for development.
“Our main focus of the project was to purchase the property where the majority of the Gardens of Millvale is located. The town is developing and we wanted to ensure that the gardens remain a Millvale destination and community green space for all. Along with acquiring the property, we were focused on having hired interns and a project manager to help the gardens grow even more. The project also included the garden layout and permaculture design plan that will guide us in developing a sustainable garden.”
With Neighborhood Allies support, the Gardens of Millvale was able to acquire these parcels and protect this community asset from current sales pressure for development, and prevent the loss of a key building block for the Millvale community.
The Gardens have become a vibrant and active part of the community, providing food and food education by offering plots for families to grow, a community orchard, and common garden areas for all Millvale residents. This year, they have a total of 40 garden beds that are rented by 100% Millvale residents and have attracted 9 new gardeners and volunteers. Many people are using the Gardens of Millvale as a reason to move into the community, creating growth and stimulating local small business. This project is, now more than ever, bringing in more opportunity for people to become involved and network with other community groups. This past year has seen unprecedented growth which continues with new members, active volunteers and more visitors to the gardens than ever before.
The Gardens of Millvale is also a key component to the Millvale’s Ecodistrict Plan for Food, Air Quality, Water, Equity, and Mobility. Through the Garden, Millvale is addressing food needs and other concerns like storm water runoff management with rain barrels and aquaponics system, which also produces free wifi for the community! The Gardens of Millvale are a hub for growth in all of these areas and can be a great positive force for future sustainability in Millvale.
What’s next for the Gardens of Millvale?
As they continue to grow, The Gardens of Millvale will continue these successes and continue to strive to be a food independent community. They are working to raise more funds to build an orchard that will grow perennial fruits. GOM along with many volunteers have already managed to clear out a large portion of the orchard to prepare for the planting of perennials this fall. They are continuing to grow more crops to increase variety and yield for the farmers market, local restaurants, and volunteers and plan to continue developing new relationships within the community, providing education, promoting the Eco District plan and connecting people to nature.