Garden will produce food for SHIM food pantry

Published May 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm (Updated May 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm)

The middle of May is a time when folks who plant vegetable gardens think about and plan on what to grow for the season. However, thoughts of one garden – a garden on a large piece of land behind St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Library – have been in the works for months.

“We had the property here and wondered what kind of use to put it to,” said Father Phil Pribonic of St. Joan of Arc. After some thought and discussion, the church decided to turn the land into a garden – with all of the produce harvested going to the food bank at South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM).

A blessing of the garden was held the evening of May 14 just outside the newly-plowed and fenced garden, which takes up a 100-by-100 foot plot of land plowed by Tim Trax of Trax Farms, who owns the property adjacent to the church. Trax is also supplying the electricity to power the fence surrounding the garden.

During the blessing of the garden, the nearly 30 people in attendance prayed for an abundant harvest and rainfall. Chris Scott, a parishioner at St. Joan of Arc, read from the Book of James and also read Psalm 65. Music Director Deana Muro led the group in the litany and also in the singing of a hymn during the blessing.

“We’re grateful to everyone who stepped forward,” Pribonic told the crowd in attendance at the blessing. He commenced the blessing by sprinkling holy water over the garden and the crowd.

The garden at St. Joan of Arc is significantly larger than the garden at the SHIM center in Bethel Park, called Boaz Fields, after the generous landowner in the Book of Ruth. Last year, Boaz Fields produced 1,600 pounds of food for the nearly 400 families served by SHIM’s food pantry.

“The parishioners volunteered in good number,” Pribonic said, adding that volunteers will plant from seeds and small plants.

Ron Boron, a master gardener from Bethel Park and parishioner at St. Joan of Arc, was tapped by Pribonic to head up the project.

“Father asked me to help with the project and by the following Sunday I was listed as the coordinator,” joked Boron. He added that between 25 and 30 volunteers have attended several meetings about the garden and have expressed interest in helping.

Boron said he and the other volunteers are planning to plant several different varieties of tomatoes and peppers, as well as eggplant, squash, zucchini, herbs and several types of beans. Boron said they plan to “go vertical” with some of the gardening like cucumbers and beans to maximize the space – even though there’s a lot of it.

Garden volunteers also plan on doing successive plantings of things like beans and greens. “That way everything won’t come in at one time,” Boron said.

The church is accepting donations of plants and seeds for the garden. Volunteers are needed to help weed, water and plant. Boron said the site is also in need of a picnic table. He added that next year they hope to implement composting into the garden and the church is hoping that someone, such as a scout group, will volunteer to help build a compost bin.

“This is a great thing for the community to do,” Boron said.

SHIM gardens are also planned at two other South Hills churches, St. David’s Episcopal Church and Bower Hill Community Church.

To donate seeds, plants or tools to the St. Joan of Arc SHIM garden, email Boron at">

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