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A garden grows in Clearfield

Captain Laurie Greenfield with some of the people who make the community garden happen (from left) Linda Swatsworth, Lew Wisor, and Art Smeal. (Photo courtesy of The Clearfield Progress)

The community garden at the Clearfield, Pa., Corps is blooming again.

Captain Laurie Greenfield, the corps officer in Clearfield, said the garden was closed last year due to COVID-19, but has returned this spring to help the struggling community just off Interstate 80 in rural Pennsylvania.

“The community really loves it,” Greenfield said. “We have so much property here it would be a shame not to use it to benefit the community.”

The corps is a former school and the accompanying ballfields provide plenty of room for a garden. Greenfield said the corps offers 34 plots that measure 15×16 feet. Residents can rent a plot for just $20.

Greenfield said she has seen garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, and cucumbers sprout this season.

“A lot of people live in apartments and don’t have the space to garden, so they come here,” she said.

Greenfield said some people have been able to supplement their income by growing food. For example, one gardener grew tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, which he then sold. Others have donated some of their vegetables to the corps food pantry.

The garden, which has existed for several years, is under the watchful eye of Art Smeal, who attends the corps and puts up fencing and numbers each plot. His wife, Janet Smeal, is a soldier and has led Home League for more than 40 years.

Greenfield said that serving as a pastor during COVID-19 has been “exhausting,” but the corps served more than 100,000 meals in the first five and a half months of the pandemic.

The corps offers several programs that include: “Operation Barbeque,” fresh food giveaways (twice a month), breakfast and lunch for schoolchildren, the regular food pantry, and food distribution to seniors.

“Any which way we can feed people, we do,” Greenfield said. “This is just another avenue. It also helps people with self-reliance.”

by Robert Mitchell

For more information about the garden, call (814)-765-4981.

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