Photo by Kay Jones

Susquehanna Stories - Danville's Volunteer Gardeners

This article appeared in our February 2012 newsletter.

Take a sunny afternoon to stroll through Danville’s River Front Park and you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the river as well as the sights, smells, and sounds of a period town garden. “Well, it all just started in 2005 with an idea to see downtown Danville install some flower planters for beautification, and somehow it turned into a whole park revitalization!” chuckles Harriett Perez, one of the Montour County Master Gardeners involved in the serious face lift of Danville’s River Front Park. Kay Jones, also a Master Gardener, explained how the project was initiated that year and was awarded funds from a Community Development Block Grant, the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, as well as support from the Danville Borough. “It was such a cooperative effort with everyone involved and has resulted in new paths, beds, underground wiring, drip irrigation and a water source for a future fountain to replicate the piece that used to be there,” explains Jones.

The lovely curly iron lampposts that now dot the park are original to Danville and were saved from destruction in the 1950s thanks to a Danville resident with heart for the historical. His family donated them back to the Borough and they were installed in 2007. “By then we knew the park project was larger than the educational mission of the Master Gardeners and it was in a place where it needed some organized gardening maintenance and fundraising, so we called together anyone interested in history, gardening or civic duty and created the Friends of River Front Park group that now cares for the park. ”Following a maintenance schedule that the Master Gardeners helped to develop, members trade off weekly responsibilities for garden planting, weeding, watering, and development. “We wanted to keep it fun, with few meetings and have a Leader-of-the-Week so that no one person would be overwhelmed with the garden or has to commit every minute of their free time to these duties,” says Jones. Perez describes the other town projects like public murals that have popped up around the garden. “It is an amazing transformation that is starting to spill over into the rest of the town and it is such a treat to see people enjoy the park for all occasions. I think seeing prom and wedding photos has been my favorite, because it shows that this is a valued community place where people want to make and share memories”

To get involved with Friends of River Front Park, contact Kay Jones at kayj116@aol.com. To learn more about the Penn State Master Gardener program visit http://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener.

Photos courtesy of Kay Jones and Harriett Perez