top of page

Lifelong learning in community gardens | The Homepage

Click to expand. Photos by Valerie Testa. 1: Lemon balm from Everybody’s Garden. 2. Chamomile and yarrow at Everybody’s Garden. 3. Volunteers tend the flower beds at Hazelwood Community Garden on Monongahela Avenue. 4. Valerie Testa at the Hazelwood Community Garden

By Valerie Testa


Wow, why is time cruising along so quickly here? Every year I get a little more realistic about what can be accomplished in the season, and yet every year I see a missed planting opportunity that I “should” have started a month ago for it to be successful. It is helpful for me to remind myself that I am very capable of “shoulding” myself to death. After all, time moves swiftly, and I am in good company when I wish there to be more hours in a day.

Springtime’s hustle can bring about anxiety that is counterproductive to the activity’s purpose. Gardening engages and encourages the senses to observe, appreciate and accept things where they are. When we are able to be present and witness the magic that yet another spring cycle of growth brings, there aren’t any wrong choices or unfixable mistakes. Things unfurl as they’re meant to. Everything wants to grow.

If I’m caught up in the “should’ves,” self doubt creeps in. I can convince myself that if a plant doesn’t thrive or a groundhog takes a seedling out, maybe I’m somehow not a gardener after all. But the learning that comes with this activity is a lifelong process. I don’t know it all, nor do I want to. Magic seems to cease when I shut myself off from what I can be taught.

Garden happenings

The more time I spend in Everybody's Garden and the Hazelwood Community Garden behind the Three Rivers Village School at the old “Y,” the more I love them. They are places to gather, to just be, to pick flowers or try an herb. Places to celebrate the growth a new season brings. If I had one main goal for the 2024 season, it would be to have more folks from the neighborhood come into these spaces to enjoy them too.

Hazelwood Community Garden

If you’d like to get a tour of the Hazelwood Community Garden, stop by on Thursdays between 4 and 6 p.m. I’d be happy to show you around.

Everybody's Garden

Everybody's Garden on Lytle Street is an open space that everyone is welcome to hang out in. Feel free to take a pinch of one of the many herbs growing there or cut yourself a few flowers to enjoy. If you’d like to learn more about what is growing in that space, I’m there every Tuesday from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m., except for the second Tuesday of the month, when I’ll cut out early to get to the community meeting.


On July 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., we will be hosting a celebration of flowers at the Hazelwood Community Garden.

Please come! Build a bouquet, hang out in the shade and enjoy the space. We will be joined by Phipps and there will be opportunities to learn about how to grow and delight in the many ways plants can engage our senses.

I gave the wrong day in the last Homepage article; this is the correct one. Registration with the QR code or by email is encouraged!

Valerie Testa is the community gardens manager at Hazelwood Initiative and a Hazelwood resident. Email your questions at


bottom of page