The End of Summer.

 

Peace from Over-the-Rhine – Cincinnati, Ohio!

The summer days have been long and hot. The rain has been MIA for weeks, and yet, we are still smiling. Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden has been busy this summer providing free classes focusing on how to grow your own food, how to prepare and cook your own harvest, and how to start your own flower business. And, thankfully, the garden had been good to us. We’ve had lots of help enabling it to thrive, but there’s still lots of harvesting and watering to be done so we welcome anyone who’s willing to lend a hand!

 

In addition to the above-mentioned classes, we just wrapped up our final free community cooking classes of the season. All summer we have been delighted to have an expert nutritionist, Lisa Andrews , come to the garden to teach us how to make delicious meals with the fruits, herbs and vegetables we’ve been growing. Check out some of the photos of her classes!

And we can’t forget that all of this would not have been possible without Gardener Jill who took the lead on planting and cultivating our successful vegetable beds. Boy did she crank out a lot of food! Although most of the produce is consumed by the gardeners and the local community, Jill also takes time to run a load of fresh produce over to the local food pantry each week. We are all very fortunate to have her.

   

Speaking of fortune, some of the plants that did wonderfully for us this year—the Swiss chard, collard greens, kale and a variety of lettuces—were especially yummy. We also had  success with squash, eggplant, hot peppers, and my personal favorite—tomatillos. Cauliflower was another plant that took up some prime garden real estate this summer. Unfortunately, it was a big flop. I suspect I may have planted them too close together and perhaps didn’t water them as regularly has I should have. The good thing is there’s always next year and the famous motto: If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!
Speaking of trying and succeeding, Jill’s husband, Chris started planting hops and has been busy harvesting and tending to this first brew of this season! Congratulations Chris!

Another big successful endeavor has been the flower gardens. The flowers coming out of the market gardens are stunning right now. The dahlias are especially gorgeous. So, I plan to double the amount of tubers I plant next year. I also made the decision to invest 100% of my time into my cut-flower business. So, after years of dreaming, I am proud to say  I am officially working for myself! To learn more about my local business please check out my business website. https://www.theflowerladyotr.com. My goal is to become one of the most successful flower-farmer-florist-educators in the area. And I attribute my ability to begin reaching this goal to my work with Grow Appalachia. My dream would not have been envisioned had it not been for my years of experience with all the wonderful people there. I am so grateful to all of you. Thank you and congratulations on celebrating 10 years Grow Appalachia! And CHEERS to all who make this program possible.
 

Which brings us to the present. Despite the temperatures in the 90’s, we are actually entering the Autumn phase of our garden which will be spent pulling out the summer tomatoes, amending the soil and planting our fall crops—spinach, radishes and beets. Autumn is also when we begin scheduling our volunteers who help us shut down the garden for the winter. But I am excited to share that about 50% of the garden will be involved in our season-extension project. Season extension will allow us to experiment with growing things throughout the winter. You know what they say about growing winter carrots right? You get a sweeter carrot. I’m anxious to find out if that’s true. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  

In the meantime, there’s still plenty of Autumn days to fill. Which included the start of the Garden Club—an after-school program attended by the neighborhood youth. Every other Monday and Wednesday, I conduct and hour-long free class in the garden. Lessons range from general gardening techniques and care to becoming an entrepreneur and “growing” a business. Due to the hot weather and very little rain, our first few classes included watering, harvesting, and sampling our produce.

  

When it comes to sampling, the biggest crowd pleaser so far has been the peaches. Despite a huge limb being damaged in the storm, our peach tree produced over a hundred peaches! For almost two weeks, everyone who walked by the garden took a peach or two with them. It was beautiful to witness how a single fruit tree could bring so many people together in the neighborhood. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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