Ever heard of Weirton? In earlier days, thousands of immigrants flocked to the little town of Weirton, West Virginia for steel mill jobs. The mills are gone, but the population remains a beautiful blend of nationalities, religions and cultures. One of its long-time residents is Master Gardener, Bob Marino.
Bob grew up in Weirton. When he saw a news article about an old house in his childhood neighborhood being donated to the Weirton Christian Center, he jumped on the idea of building a community garden. He and a few friends, also master gardeners, developed a community garden where they could encourage adults and kids to grow organic vegetables in a community setting.
Bob’s a Master Gardener with a passion. He and cohort, Becky Walter, have helped make a difference in a town that’s truly grateful for their energy, knowledge and willingness to undertake this project. He didn’t do it only because he loves to garden. He wanted to teach people, and especially kids, how fun and satisfying it is to grow healthy, organic food. Here kids learn the best ways to prepare a garden bed, how to plant, mulch, make compost, fertilize, trim and harvest. Bob, Becky and friends provide tireless supervision, instruction and motivation for students and community groups, who are encouraged to claim one of the garden’s beds for a season. All trainers and advocates give their time on a volunteer basis, including teaching classes in preserving and canning.
A raised bed in Weirton Community Garden can be leased for a nominal fee, per season. During that time, the materials, seeds, soil and equipment, much of which is sourced through local donations, are provided to gardeners. All they need to do is show up, learn and work their own special garden bed. Bob and his colleagues inspire and motivate gardeners of all ages, many of whom have never planted a seed. Bob tells, with delight, about a group of girl scouts who, after one season, independently prepared their garden bed the second time around with no help whatsoever.
Weirton Community Garden was the recipient of one of Gardening Know How’s 2019 sponsorships. The money was well spent, as evidenced by photos. Bob recognizes that all the health aspects of community gardening – physical exertion, fresh air, a lifetime of knowledge, harvesting and consuming organic produce and a real sense of community – are invaluable for the underserved as well as the affluent. In fact, the Weirton Christian Community Garden has donated nearly 1,000 pounds of fresh organic produce to area food banks over the last 3 years. Gardening Know How is happy and proud to support Bob Marino and Weirton’s community garden.
We at Gardening Know How love to give back through our sponsorship program. If you or your organization would like to apply for our yearly sponsorship program, feel free to visit our site to submit your application for consideration.