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New community garden program in Wilkes-Barre

New community gardens are being set up in the city with help from the Wilkes-Barre Health Department to supply food pantries and other agencies with fresh produce.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — New roots are at work inside garden boxes on Madison Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Just one of many community gardens set up around the city with help from the Wilkes-Barre Health Department to supply food pantries and other agencies with fresh produce.

"The community garden program is a program funded by the state and through the city of Wilkes Barre that actually gives people the opportunity to start their own gardens. Back in 2018, We had one garden. Now we apply to them, those gardens encompass, in effect, growing for people for their own personal needs, but also for the community," said David Yonki, Wilkes-Barre Health Department Health Educator.

In some cases, these gardens also provide skill-building and therapy opportunities.

Albert Hine showed us around the garden outside New Roots Recovery Center, where new beginnings, growth, and 'new roots' are something he and the plants here have in common.

"Oh yeah, it's nice to have fresh produce, and people around here that need fresh fruits and vegetables can come here, which is nice," said Hine.

Albert says he grew up gardening and has a background working with plants. 

He says he's going to work hard to make sure this garden is successful.

"Well, I want to come out here, and we're probably almost every day. There are some groundhogs around here, so I caught him in the box before, so keep an eye, on one hand, we are putting a wire fence around it, maybe we have a problem or something," said Hine.

Emily Agnello, who just graduated from King's College, helped plant the garden on Madison Street.

She says it's a place where she won't go for food but to relax.

"Students can use it utilize it as a study space or just kind of like a hangout space, we have a food pantry for our students to use they can use that food members of Madison Street can like go there and get food if they want to," said Agnello.

"Community garden means that it actually helps individuals who basically gets a sense of well-being, a sense of purpose, but more importantly, healthy eating and healthy foods access to healthy foods, the grant basically covers access to healthy foods, community interaction. And if we can help people somewhere along the way, in terms of own personal self-development, that's nice too," said Yonki.