The New Kensington Community Garden is about to take root in a new home in town.
The vegetable garden, previously located along Fifth Avenue between Eighth and Ninth Streets, is scheduled to be rebuilt and replanted this year on Salvation Army land near Industrial Boulevard.
The New Kensington Salvation Army is located in the former Fort Crawford Elementary School on Third Street. The Salvation Army purchased the building from the New Kensington-Arnold School District in 2019.
The garden, created in 2012, was located where the new digital foundry is being built on Fifth Avenue. This new facility is expected to open this year.
This parcel became vacant land after fire-damaged buildings were demolished in December 2006, including the then-vacant former Pittsburgh Beauty Academy.
Patrick Coulson, principal of Westmoreland County Community College’s New Kensington campus and volunteer director of the garden, said he wanted to partner with another organization to find a new home for the garden. He met Major Scott Flanders shortly after he and his wife, Leslie, took over command of the New Kensington Salvation Army.
“We are a community organization. We are here to bring the community together,” Flanders said. “When the garden was moved and they approached me, it was a no-brainer. We welcome them with open arms.”
Called the “New Kensington Community Garden 2.0,” it will be similar in size to the original garden, Coulson said. City councilor Dante Cicconi, landscape architect, is the designer.
One greenhouse will be located in the garden, while a second is at the college, Coulson said.
The garden is supported by a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.
Coulson said work on the garden is expected to begin in April with planting in May and it will produce this year.
Most of the vegetables grown in the garden will be distributed by the Salvation Army, Coulson said. It will also have private beds that residents will maintain themselves.
Unlike Tarentum’s Greg Blythe Friendship Garden, it won’t be open to people to choose for themselves.
The bounty from the New Kensington garden will go to the Salvation Army food pantry, Sally’s Market, which is set up like a small grocery store. Flanders said it would complement the pantry, where he said they wanted to have fresh food alternatives for people.
“We are moving away from ramen noodles and Cup-a-Soup. We want to encourage people to make healthier choices,” he said. “This will provide us with fresh produce to distribute to people in need.”
The Salvation Army’s outdoor playground will remain, Flanders said.