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Chester County Press

The Community Garden at Goddard Park:

09/01/2015 02:24PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

Gifted -- and many would say, inspired -- by the generous donation of 40 acres by Steven and Marna Goddard, the 125-acre Goddard Park in London Grove Township is a vast and intricate manifestation of realized ideas.

There are walking paths that wind through thickets of trees and open fields. Every day, small and happy hands and feet poke out in all directions at the playground; and the dog park, to no one's surprise, has become one of West Grove's most popular nightly social gathering spots.

Tucked into one corner of this vast area – and included in the park's second phase of construction – is a small patch of earth known as the Goddard Park Community Garden. Since it was opened in May, the garden has flourished as a quiet spot where township residents can plant, cultivate and harvest their own produce. There is another purpose going on there as well -- a bed-by-bed dedication of local scout groups and other organizations to grow crops that will ultimately be given to local food centers like the Chester County Food Bank and the Bridge Food Pantry.

Recently, scouts from Boy Scout Troop 191 and Cub Scout Pack 54 planted broccoli, cabbage, dill, cilantro and basil which, after harvesting, will be donated to The Bridge Food Pantry for distribution to hungry families in Chester County. In September, the scouts will plant lettuce and turnips. Volunteers from the Garage Community and Youth Center in West Grove are also cultivating a bed, for eventual distribution to the pantry.

Although London Grove Township administrator Suzanne Smith said she's content that the first year of the project has already yielded interest from local organizations, there are a lot more garden beds that she would like to see cultivated.

"If we already have four organizations tending to four beds in order to donate to the Food Bank this year, just imagine what we can do next year," Smith said. "Giving boxes of cereal is a vital component of donating food items, but growing fresh produce can also do so many things for people."

The mission of the Community Garden doesn't end when produce finds its way to local food centers. There is an educational component as well that links gardening experts with backyard gardeners. Last Wednesday evening, Lisa Goodale-Brinton of the Chester County Food Bank gave a tutorial that walked residents through the basics of fall gardening. For more than an hour, she reviewed how to prepare beds for planting; proper selection of which crops to grow; and the best times for planting and harvest.

"From education to our dedicated planting, we've come a long way thus far," Smith said. "We must continue to give back to the Food Bank and the people in our community. I'm confident that what we have now will draw the attention of more scout groups and more organizations. I see the momentum already happening."

To learn more about the Goddard Park Community Garden, and to inquire about having your organization become involved in raising produce for donation, contact Suzanne Smith at 610-345-0100, or by email: [email protected].

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].