Community harvest

Ayda Yost and Morgan Wenzel paid attention as TIME gardener Richard Tom Gold spoke about harvesting tomatoes at Chef’s Garden park.

MILTON — While carefully peering over 10 raised-bed gardens filled with growing tomatoes, Richard Tom Gold’s eyes lit up with excitement as he came across one tomato on Thursday afternoon.

“That’s a good one,” he said, while pulling the tomato from the vine and then holding it up. “This one is nice and ripe.”

Since May, Gold has served as the gardener for The Improved Milton Experience (TIME), working with community volunteers to care for tomatoes and other crops which have been growing in Chef’s Garden Park, located on the grounds of the Milton Moose Family Center.

On Thursday afternoon, volunteers gathered at the garden to pick the first tomatoes from the garden.

In addition to the tomatoes, Gold said crops being grown include peppers, onions, basil and oregano.

Chef’s Garden Park was unveiled in May, as TIME Executive Director George Venios accepted a $25,000 grant from the Conagra Brands Foundation to enhance programming being offered through the Chef’s Place Boiardi Museum and Eatery, located on the second floor of the Moose.

The park, which is funded with some of the funds from the grant, is an extension of the museum and eatery.

The garden will be featured on a float in the Sept. 21 Milton Harvest Festival Parade. After the parade, Venios said the remaining vegetables will be harvested.

Healthy classes — focusing on topics such as food preservation, meal planning, food safety and promoting healthy lifestyles — will then be offered at Chef’s Place by entities including the Penn State Extension, Bucknell University and Evangelical Community Hospital.

“We are going to have canning lessons for the public,” Venios said. “We will announce those details at a later time.”

Gold said the crops being grown in the raised-bed gardens were planted in May. He’s been keeping a close watch over the crops all summer.

“I came down almost every day to make sure they had water,” Gold said.

While he believes too much rain has fallen over the summer, Gold has added water to the crops in order to help them grow.

Venios said Chef’s Garden Park is a new annual tradition in Milton, and more crops will be grown there in future years.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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