2018 Reflections & 2019 Updates From the Cincinnati Garden

Happy New Year!

As we embark on our sixth season with Grow Appalachia in 2019, we can’t help but reflect upon all the positive experiences and knowledge we have gained over the past year. First of all, gardeners Chris and Jill took over growing most of the vegetables in the garden and they were able to add months to the growing season by utilizing season extension! A big shout out goes to them, as well as to our team of volunteer gardeners. They rocked! There wasn’t a single plot in the garden that didn’t have something growing in it. As a result, we not only had flowers galore this season, but we also produced tons of vegetables. Any food that was not eaten by our participants was donated weekly to the local food pantry.


In addition, as a result of producing a rainbow of blooms from early summer until the first frost, the garden not only attracted  a variety of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds—but also the attention of people passing by, encouraging more impromptu garden tours. This has led to increased interest and increased opportunity. This year the garden coordinator, Christina secured weekly bouquet subscriptions from four local businesses and other clients and events have already been targeted for 2019.

Most importantly, expounding on our vision to inspire families in Over-the-Rhine to have fun while learning and developing skills to grow food, reconnect with nature, and become more self-sufficient became paramount. The creation of the cooperative opportunity entitled “Grow Your Business”—which tied into the market/garden program was a huge success and will definitely be implemented again next year. Students who attended these free classes learned the basics of flower and vegetable growing, along with how to preserve the harvest. They were also introduced to healthy meal preparation, and marketing skills. Below are photos from the final class of 2018, foraging and building holiday garland. The group created 20-ft of fresh garland and hung it up on the garden railing in hopes of creating a holiday joy for the garden passerbys.



The fall was spent putting the garden to bed and planting hundred of spring bulbs for the Market Garden section of the garden. Late winter has been spent with resting, restoring and succession planning. Taking seed inventory and ordering are other tedious winter tasks that keep gardeners busy in January and February.


Finally, in 2019  we are pleased to announce that that Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden Coordinator, Christina, will now be selling seasonal flowers via the Market Garden section of the garden. In an effort to fulfill her dream of ultimately becoming a flower farmer-florist full-time, Christina has since resigned from Paul Mitchell and started her own business using a similar business model inspired by what Grow Appalachia teaches its participants: The Flower Lady LLC. To purchase flowers and/or to learn about opportunities for you to become involved in the OTR People’s Garden, please visit her website at https://www.theflowerladyotr.com.


Peace, Love, Happiness & Flowers, 

Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden



CHECK THIS OUT: Greg, a Civic Garden employee, recently shared that the Civic Garden Center’s Community Garden Program trails behind the New York’s GrownNYC by a few years in implementation– 1975 versus 1980. However, we believe the OTR People’s Garden is the longest continuously active community garden in the country! 



About the Author:

For over thirty years Civic Garden Center (CGC) has been working with neighborhood residents and community-based organizations to create community gardens as well as providing technical support and advanced training in growing fruits and vegetables using organic practices. Our goal is to not only to start community gardens but to provide ongoing support so they will be sustainable and thrive into the future. The first community garden was the Over-The-Rhine People's Garden, built in 1980. Since then community gardening has blossomed all across greater Cincinnati. There are dozens of these magnificent green and growing areas throughout the city. Cleaning up and converting blighted, vacant lots improve the image of the neighborhood, how people feel about it and about themselves. These thriving green spaces create a nurturing refuge, often in places where there are no other parks or green space available. Community gardening brings people living in these neighborhoods together, helping to rebuild the bonds of community. Neighborhood residents who participate have direct access to the fresh, nutritious produce these gardens provide. Our award-winning Community Gardens Program is one of the Civic Garden Center's longest-standing community outreach efforts. Starting with a pilot garden in 1980, the program was formally established in 1981(as the Neighborhood Gardens Program) to assist community groups, primarily in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods, converting blighted vacant lots into beautiful and productive community food gardens and parks. The current Community Gardens Program continues to provide individuals and groups technical assistance, leadership training, horticulture education and start-up support to help them successfully organize, plan, build and sustain their gardens. A core component of the Community Gardens Program is the Community Garden Development Training (CGDT) program. CGDT offers a unique and successful set of tools to help neighbors of all ages come together to create community gardens. The heart of CGDT twelve class series is the peer-centered curriculum that allows participants to share their talents and utilize community resources to develop and implement neighborhood gardening projects. The CGDT curriculum is three-fold covering community development, garden administration and sustainable gardening practices. Twenty-eight years of experience has demonstrated the practical value of these projects: • Community garden programs teach participants self-reliance and a variety of skills useful in running the gardens and in other aspects of community work and family life. • Community Gardens offer participants direct access to fresh, nutritious produce. • Numerous health studies show that gardening positively impacts body, mind and soul, benefiting participants from both active and passive involvement. • Gardening provides unique recreational outlets and a healthy source of exercise for people of all ages. • Community gardens bring people together, helping to build the bonds of community. • Cleaning up and converting blighted vacant lots improves the image of the neighborhood, how people feel about it and about themselves. • Reports show that this kind of community involvement can actually help reduce vandalism and bring down crime rates.

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