The community garden on East College Avenue at University Drive has gone untouched this summer as the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy struggles to find a volunteer for its upkeep.
With only seven staff members and 132 gardens to monitor, the conservancy relies on volunteers to make the gardens possible.
“Our office is in Pittsburgh, and we have some gardens that are far away in Erie, North Huntingdon, Altoona, State College and even farther away in Harrisburg,” said Lynne McGuire-Olzack, the conservancy’s volunteer coordinator. “This is the first time we don’t have a volunteer in State College.”
McGuire-Olzack said she has used social media and called local Rotary and gardening clubs and the Penn State Alumni Association, which planted the garden in early June, to find a volunteer.
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“A lot of it is getting the word out, but this has never happened, so I’m desperate,” McGuire-Olzack said. “Our State College garden has been planted each summer since 1999, and it would be awful to see it go uncared for.”
Conservancy staff makes trips to central Pennsylvania gardens about once a month, but the group needs someone to tend the garden weekly.
“Sometimes people think it’s a lot more difficult than it really is,” McGuire-Olzack said. “It has an irrigation system, so people can weed and just turn on the water. It’s just consistency to find someone who loves gardening and can do it once a week for an hour. It’s a real simple thing where we provide everything — the tools, compost and anything else they need.”
The conservancy doesn’t want to see the garden go unattended.
“I think it beautifies the community and brightens the community, especially in traffic situations,” McGuire-Olzack said. “I think without it, it’s a dead area without color or life to that area, and I’ve hit a wall. I’m out of ideas.”
To contact the conservancy about volunteering, call 412-608-0595.