While Kittanning Borough Council gave permission to Mary Ann Valasek to seek volunteers to maintain gardens in Kittanning Riverfront Park, Council delayed a decision to allow a community garden on Woodward Avenue to continue.
In the Spring of 2019, Living Water Church was given the use of a piece of land owned by Kittanning Borough to start a community garden. The property was located in the middle of the residential area of the Third Ward.
Andrew Laddusaw, church pastor and local insurance agent, called the garden “an experiment” and was using the first year of the garden to prepare the soil. The group used woodchips and mulch.
“When you add woodchips each year, they break down and become future soil. They also help to hold moisture in the soil,” Laddusaw said.
Since there is no water access, the group had to carry water to the garden daily.
“Our first year was more successful than we could have ever imagined,” Laddusaw reported. We had reports of dozens of people coming to the garden every week for fresh produce. We have had hundreds of comments in support of the garden, including many testimonies from families in poverty that said this was their best access to fresh produce. Our future plans will allow us to triple our production within the same property.”
Councilman Scott Davis explained that there were complaints from local residents about using borough property and presented photos of the mess.
“These pictures don’t represent what Living Water does in the community,” Davis said, “but at the same time, we had a consensus that it needed to be cleaned up.”
Councilman Mike Johns pointed out to Laddusaw that the property is something the Borough would like to sell in the future, and that whatever had been done was temporary. Laddusaw said he might be interested in purchasing it. Solicitor Ty Heller said it was previously advertised for two rounds of public offering, but did not sell. Heller said if Laddusaw was genuinely interested, the property could be placed for bid again.
Council agreed to deliberate over the next month in order to give new council members time to give input. A decision on the future of the garden is expected by February 2020.