- Misty Woody
Fresh Produce and Borrowable Bicycles
HARRISON TOWNSHIP, PA - Fresh produce and borrowable bicycles will be popping up in the Alle-Kiski Valley, thanks to the Highlands Partnership Network with the support of state Senator Lindsey Williams. The community project will take sprout with a Community Garden Groundbreaking at 11 am on Thursday, March 24 at Citizens Hose Fire and Rescue, 965 Burtner Road in Natrona Heights, Harrison Township. All are welcomed to see the future garden site, meet volunteers and learn about the future of the project.
The Highlands Partnership Network (HPN), a cohort of businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organization, health institutions and local representatives in the Highlands School District, received a $50,000 Keystones Communities grant to create a community garden network and bike share program for the Natrona Heights, Natrona, Brackenridge and Tarentum areas.
“Supporting projects that unite the community and bring resources like food and transportation to people who need it is a huge priority to me. I'm so proud to partner with Highlands Partnership Network and Citizens Hose to amplify the amazing work that they do serving our community every day,” said Sen. Williams (D-Allegheny County). “This Community Garden and Bike Share are going to be an incredible benefit to the neighborhood - I can't wait to start planting!”
HPN’s partners recognize the lack of access to fresh food and transportation options in the area, and works together to support projects and programs that alleviate those burdens in the community, particularly for the most vulnerable families. HPN focuses on Community Empowerment, Community Wellness, and Community Connections in its planning, efforts, and implementation of Community Action. It presents civic initiatives and opportunities by engaging and activating volunteers, connecting resources to projects and informing the community as a whole.
“HPN is excited to launch a community garden to not only offer fresh produce at no cost, but to teach people how to grow their own food, make healthier food choices, and best of all, to do it together,” said Autumn Monaghan, co-chair of HPN. “The vision is to have a central location where families and individuals can contribute to the garden, meet others in the area and create a sustainable food system that will grow in the years to come.”
The community garden network project will include installing a new garden at Citizen’s Hose Fire and Rescue along Burtner Road in the Birdville section of Harrison township and providing funding support to the existing Greg Blythe Friendship Garden in Tarentum. Harvests will also be used to support the Veggies for All program by the Building Blocks of Natrona. Residents will be able to stop by the gardens during planting, growing or harvest times to volunteer, learn or take produce home when it’s ready.
In addition to the gardens, the project includes a bike share program. Bicycles will be available to borrow from two locations in the community, one in Harrison and one in Tarentum. Those who need bikes for transportation or for recreation will be able to visit a site, create a membership account and borrow the bicycle for up to a week at a time. The bicycle project is supported by Red Lantern Bicycles, a bicycle repair and resell shop in Turtle Creek. Red Lantern has repaired, refurbished and resold more than 10,000 used bikes and helmets at affordable cost since 2013.
“We want bicycling to be accessible to all,” said Maria Sink, HPN member and Red Lantern board member. “We hope this pilot program will increase access to recreational biking for families in the Highlands area, as well as a healthy mode of transportation for those who need it.”
Members of the community who would like to contribute to the community garden and bike share project are welcomed! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to connect to the project committee.