• 73°

Watching their gardens grow

Thomas Stapleton waters the vegetable plot that he and his grandmother, Mary VanMeter, planted at the Community Garden.

Thomas Stapleton waters the vegetable plot that he and his grandmother, Mary VanMeter, planted at the Community Garden.


The yellow and black sign topped off with a yellow birdhouse says it all.

“Thomas’ garden.”

Thomas Stapleton, the soon-to-be 7-year-old, has since the first of June faithfully planted, watered and weeded the bed his grandmother, Mary VanMeter, signed up for in Ironton’s inaugural Community Garden.

“My grandson took that over,” VanMeter said.

Blooming in green lushness are cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, green peppers, hot peppers, parsley, green onions and watermelon.

“I love gardens,” Van Meter said. “I love to eat fresh vegetables out of the garden.”

Daily, she and Thomas walk over to their corner section of the garden to see how much longer it will be before the cucumbers will be ready to peel and squash chopped and sautéed in butter.

Joining them on Monday afternoon was VanMeter’s neighbor and fellow gardener, Rosemary Joseph, who took on three plots, never letting a morsel of soil go to waste, as the green stocks of scallions poking out as a border to her patch of tenderette beans attest.

“Oh look, you’ve got lots of tomatoes,” VanMeter tells her friend as they check out the marble-sized green globes on the vine.

This is the first year for the Community Garden, a collaborative effort of Ironton in Bloom, Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. The garden offers 31 plots at a rental of $20 each for the season for those who otherwise wouldn’t have a garden, whether the size of their yard limits them or they live in an apartment.

The raised beds are enclosed behind fencing and a locked gate with watering hoses set up throughout the area.

“We are elated with the participation we have received,” Carol Allen, president of Ironton in Bloom, said. “We are very, very pleased with the way everyone has pulled together to create the gardens, the way the individuals are participating, maintaining them keeping each of the plots looking beautiful.”

Caring for a garden comes second nature for Joseph who grew up finding her produce out in the patch in the backyard at her home at Kelley’s Bridge. But a move into Ironton put an end to that.

“I love to garden,” she said. “I like the food you get out of it.”

Now that their gardens are in, VanMeter and Joseph only have to spend about an hour a day watering, occasionally weeding and patiently waiting for the time they can reap when they have sown.

“This is the best thing they have done for the neighborhood,” Van Meter said.