Residents invited to help launch community garden

NEW CUMBERLAND-Two brothers are asking New Cumberland residents to help them build their own slice of “almost heaven” at the corner of North Chestnut and Jackson streets.

Patrick and Adam Vulgamore, who grew up in New Cumberland and founded the nonprofit organization Magic Tree Inc. last year, will be in town on Saturday to inaugurate the city’s first community garden.

New Cumberland City Council agreed in January to donate the old Mack property, an unassuming 45-by-100-foot lot at the intersection of North Chestnut and Jackson streets, to Magic Tree for use as a demonstration garden-pending any necessary survey and legal work.

Cleanup work began last Sunday, when a group of volunteers gathered there with a donated backhoe and removed an old storage shed and some brush, said George Hines, who sits on the Magic Tree board of directors.

“It’s an improvement to a city lot, so the city’s glad that we’re doing it,” Hines said. “It’s made a big impact already, just the little stuff we got out of there. Everybody’s had good comments so far.”

That work will continue from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. when residents are invited to participate in an event with the Vulgamore brothers in observance of West Virginia “Make It Shine” Day.

“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this in New Cumberland before,” said Patrick Vulgamore, president of the Magic Tree board of directors, who now lives in Philadelphia. “We’re hoping that it attracts a lot of people and sparks a lot of curiosity and ideas.”

Although it’s too early to plant anything, the garden ultimately will be used for vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees, as well as children’s activities and educational projects, Hines said. Preliminary design drawings anticipate everything from raised beds and rain barrels to benches and potato towers.

Another event will be scheduled later in the spring for planting purposes, Vulgamore said. “(On Saturday) we’re just going to prepare the site: marking off what’s going to go where, going over the design of the garden, preparing the soil-things like that,” he said.

Assisting with the garden concept and design is Mirjana “Mira” Bulatovic-Danilovich, consumer horticulture specialist for the West Virginia University Extension Service. Previously an educator with Michigan State University Extension, Danilovich has developed an initial design for the New Cumberland garden, as well as a list of 26 plants and materials for potential use in the garden.

Danilovich is planning to attend Saturday’s event, Vulgamore said, noting that he was introduced to her through WVU Professor of Sustainable Agriculture Chris Haddox.

“She’s super excited about this project,” he said. “It’s amazing what she’s done so far.”

Also assisting with the garden will be members of the Tri-State Area Master Gardener Association, a program of the Hancock County office of the WVU Extension Service. The Master Gardener Program, with which Danilovich also is involved, trains people in various aspects of gardening and horticulture and organizes them to do volunteer service.

“They are a group of incredibly dedicated volunteers who have a wealth of information about gardening,” said Hancock County Extension Agent Carole Scheerbaum. “We’re hoping they’re going to be able to help with things like the (educational) demonstrations and making recommendations of what can be planted.”

Scheerbaum said the community garden is a perfect fit for people trained as Master Gardeners.

“I’m excited that there’s a group in Hancock County that wants to take on this kind of project. It has tremendous potential when it comes to education,” she said.

Vulgamore said a woman he went to Oak Glen High School with, Mallory Markowicz, has agreed to help with the scheduling and running of educational programs at the community garden.

Volunteers who attend Saturday’s event are encouraged to bring gardening tools. Lunch will be provided.

The Vulgamore brothers founded Magic Tree last year as a 501 (c)(4) organization whose mission is to “educate, facilitate and demonstrate a green and sustainable lifestyle,” according to the website

Magic Tree is operated by a board of directors that includes Vulgamore, his brother, Adam, George Hines, Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller and East Liverpool attorney Ian Masters.