Garden Provides Rebirth for Flood-Ravaged Land


WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Progress is still being made in Wyoming Valley communities ravaged by the flood of 2011. In one instance, the rebirth is coming right out of the ground.

It may have looked like Estelle Campenni was working in her backyard garden Wednesday afternoon, but looks can be deceiving. It’s not where she lives, but it is where she’s putting her green thumb to the test at what’s billed as the West Pittston Community Garden. Borough Councilwoman Ellen Quinn, co-founder of the community group West Pittston Tomorrow, said “We are glad to turn these properties into something positive and productive.”

A house once stood at this site along Race Street until the Flood of 2011 destroyed it. A Federal Emergency Management Agency buyout of the property followed which required the land be used as green space. West Pittston Tomorrow Garden Committee Chairman John Ochman said, “We want to honor that and keep it as open space as it was intended but we also want to reuse the space for a better purpose so we think we have a good fit.”

Just about a month ago, the roughly quarter-acre property was covered entirely in grass. But since then rocks have been removed, water lines have been installed and fresh soil has been delivered. It took additional money to do all that which meant fundraisers in the years since the flood. “We were amazed at the outpouring of this community and what they gave,” said Ms. Quinn.

Now home to 48 garden plots of varying sizes, borough residents wishing to participate began planting flowers, vegetables and fruit this week. Penn State Master Gardener David Todd also serves on West Pittston Tomorrow’s Garden Committee and said, “To see things coming up out of the ground here and the spirit around everybody that’s involved is amazing.”

New York State transplant Kendra Rogers is glad to help the borough where she now lives put the flood behind it saying, “To get the town away from that and build new which is important. That’s kind of why we moved to a town like this for that sense of community.” And a sense of rebirth. 

West Pittston Tomorrow wants to convert more flood-damaged borough properties into garden space and also get schools involved. Click here or here to learn more about the community garden and the group behind it.

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