As part of the joint summer 2021 community garden program at the Melton Center, the West Chester Green Team agreed to install a Little Library. The books, which will initially be related to environment, sustainability and gardening, were gathered and placed on the shelves by retired Library Specialist Peggy Pillard. People are welcome to take those books for their own reading pleasure and, if they wish, to bring in others to share.
Many thanks also to the Rotary Club of Greater West Chester, whose members kindly assembled, stained and installed the shipped pieces of the Little Library; the attractive result, awaiting its complement of reading matter, is shown in the first photo; and now with books, in the second photo, showing the plaque recognizing WC Green Team as donor.
Green Team president Margaret Hudgings, who coordinated the initiative, explains: “The mission of our Little Library project at the Melton Center is to encourage, particularly among the young, the art of reading and knowledge about environment and the world.”
We are grateful to all who ensured the success of this important project.
The Melton Center library box joins more than 100,000 worldwide (including 20 in the West Chester area) coordinated by the Little Free Library movement.
The 2021 Mondays at Melton summer environmental camp wrapped up on August 9 with “One Kiwi, Two Kiwis,” a story about her native New Zealand read by Rani Norley, wife of West Chester Borough mayor Jordan Norley.
Forty people of all ages joined the celebration and learned how New Zealanders, also known as Kiwis, greet each other, a bit about their history as a British Commonwealth nation, and an overview of their famous and unique animals.
Rani shared photos of the mountains and national parks of her beautiful native land and passed around a small globe, which she used to show where New Zealand is relative to the US and to illustrate why the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons.
In addition, environmental educator and Melton Center staff member Eunice Alexander strummed her guitar and sang songs about spiders and snakes–and how good they are for the Earth. As a special treat of the evening, everyone enjoyed gelato generously donated by D’Ascenzo’s.
Thanks also to Sue Patterson of the West Chester Co-op and Michael Hartman of Senator Carolyn Comitta’s office for serving ice cream.
You can see all of the activity reflected in the photos above and below expertly taken by Taka Nagai.
Earlier lessons at the camp featured growing and cooking with tomatoes, information on endangered animals, a story on city gardening, a Japanese tale of a magic peach, and an overall focus on good nutrition and the importance of eating healthy vegetables grown in your own garden.
Thanks to Senator Carolyn Comitta and her husband Tom for their generous financial contribution to Mondays at Melton, to Jessica Nagle for being a regular part of programs, to Reiko Yoshida and Taka Nagai, who came 3 times, took photos and provided Japanese cookies and candy for the peach evening, and especially to Jamie Comfort Atkins, director of the Melton Center’s New Directions program and overall coordinator of Mondays at Melton.
Mondays at Melton are an outgrowth of the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center’s collaboration on their first annual community garden program. WCU Professor Ashlie Delshad advises the gardeners, who are enjoying a bountiful harvest. Snacking on cherry tomatoes they pick themselves, the children learned when and how to harvest from their own gardens.
Mondays at Melton were sponsored by the Melton Center and the WC Green Team. For our August 2 program “A Glimpse of Japan,” see here. For more information on Mondays at Melton and the WC Green Team’s related community gardening program, type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebaror contact Margaret Hudgings, firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the Tokyo Olympics just underway, last week Melton Center students got a juicy glimpse into Japanese culture.
As part of their Mondays at Melton series, the West Chester Green Team partnered with the Japan Foundation to tell students the story of Momotaro, a child born from a giant peach. The only son of an elderly couple, Momotaro leaves as an adolescent to protect his village from a band of ogres. With the help of some friends he meets along the way, Momotaro is able to convince the ogres to repent of their misdeeds and returns to his homeland a hero. Momotaro is an oral story that may date back to the 14th century.
The story helped to illustrate the importance of oral storytelling in the Japanese culture while celebrating peach season locally. After the reading, students enjoyed delicious peaches from Barnard’s Orchards, sampled some Japanese candy and got to try their hand at the Japanese art form of origami.
Special thanks to Japan Foundation volunteers Reiko Yoshida, her daughter Misaki and husband Taka Nagai (our stalwart photographer) for making the evening one that students won’t soon forget.
Type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebar for earlier stories about Mondays at Melton.
DLN reporter Bill Rettew was with us on July 19, at the weekly Mondays at Melton program presented jointly by the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center. His photo shows Nora Ziegler reading a book on tomatoes to the children.
Read the full article “West Chester students get lesson on growing, harvesting fruits and vegetables” at the Daily Local News site. Excerpt:
“A lot of kids are not exposed to growing,” said Green Team president elect Margaret Hudgings. “They see it comes from a package in the supermarket instead of from a garden.”
The students plant and watch veggies grow from seeds.
“I gives them an appreciation of fruits and vegetables,” Hudgings said. “If involved with growing themselves, they will eat it.”
Please check out a great article by journalist and professor in WCU’s Department of Communication and Media Jesse Piersol, “What’s Growing in the Borough: the bounty of West Chester gardens,” in the July issue of the very attractive publication The WC Press, pages 33-41. You may receive or pick up a copy, or you can subscribe online for free when you look at the article here.
The article features interviews with:
• Our own gardening activists Ashlie Delshad, Margaret Hudgings, and Sallie Jones;
• West Chester University’s Joan Welch, Kate Stewart and Tyler Montgomery, about the four WCU campus gardens (see our new video featuring them here; scroll down to “The Gardens of West Chester University” and follow the link);
• Also Christina Wilcomes of Hackberry Hill Flowers and Ben Rotteveel of DutchGrown Flower Bulbs.
The article, beautifully written and illustrated with 5 garden photos, including kids gardening at the Melton Center in our community garden program there (see more here and here), ends with thoughts about how, even in difficult times, gardening can bring us a sense of tranquility and escapism.
Thanks to Jesse Piersol and The WC Press for such a great job of presenting an important local trend. May it inspire many more gardeners!
By WCGT summer Garden Program Coordinator Elizabeth Schultz, showing the project she directed at the June 21 Mondays at Melton program
Looking for a simple, fun activity to do with kids? Look no further! The Green Team organized the following planting activity for children at our first Mondays at Melton youth series, and it is easy to replicate at home. Follow the steps below, and in just a few days you will have a jar person with edible cress hair that can be cut and enjoyed in soups, salads, sandwiches, and more!
Glass Jar (We used an upcycled 5oz Oui yogurt jar)
Garden Cress Seeds
Glass Painting/Decorating Materials
Step 1: After gathering your materials, start by decorating your jar with whatever craft materials you have on hand. Our kids enjoyed working with paint markers and googly-eyes to make their jar faces really stand out.
Step 2: Once your jar has a lively face, fill it almost to the brim with organic soil or dirt.
Step 3: Sprinkle a pinch of your garden cress seeds over the top of the dirt.
Step 4: Spoon a small amount of soil over the seeds until they are all lightly buried. Keep seeds shallow at about ¼” planting depth.
Step 5: Wet the soil with a little bit of water, place the jar on a windowsill, and wait. Garden cress is extremely quick to sprout and low-maintenance (making it great for impatient kids). You should see cress growing within 2-5 days!
In a week or less, your cress shoots will be 1½-2” tall and ready to harvest. You can cut the stalks off at the base and use the greens to add a peppery tang to your next dish. To learn more about garden cress and how you can use it in your kitchen, read here.
The Green Team’s community gardening program is well underway. Local residents and families who want to garden but lack their own suitable space are hard at work at three different locations in West Chester Borough.
An important part of it is the Mondays at Melton program for kids; see background here.
We had another wonderful Monday at Melton on June 28! Melinda and her son William read a beautiful book, The Bear’s Garden, and the kids loved making their newspaper pots — many of them even planted them in our garden! 🪴 Thank you so much, Melinda, for your patience, kindness, and amazing teaching skills!
Also, a big thank you to Nora, who helped with everything from leasing the soil station to walking kids to the bathroom, and to Courtney for bringing her kiddos Ollie and Everette to participate in the program. It was a hot but wonderful night for all, with a lot of smiles!
The kids were also so excited to harvest our first ripe cherry tomato of the season! Enjoy the photos!
This is our joint summer program with the Melton Center for children age 5-10 affiliated with our community gardening program or the Melton Center or just interested in exciting and educational Monday evening activities. 7pm, Mondays, June 21 – August 9. More info: email@example.com.
Here’s what our June 21 activity with Elizabeth Schultz will look like (a few days after the cress seeds are planted in decorated pots; for our detailed instructions on making your own, see here):
Thanks to Hello, West Chester, 6/3/21, for this great description of our and other groups’ summer community gardening programs:
New raised beds at the Melton Center. West Chester offers relatively few community garden plots considering the number of renters and homes with limited acreage.
As one side of the Melton Center property on E. Miner Street is being cemented over on its way to becoming ten townhouses and a four-story, 41-unit affordable apartment complex. The other side is being subdivided into 10 4’ x 4’ raised-bed plots. Over the last year, the community fixture since 1934 has been busy maximizing its physical presence to continue its mission of contributing to “the quality of life for all people of the greater West Chester community.” Which today means trying to tackle a couple of rather lofty goals: affordable housing and food insecurity.
While every row home that sells over asking price serves as a reminder of the borough’s need for affordable housing, one might not think putting food on the table would be a problem in the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, but you’d be wrong….