The solstice on June 20th marked the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. While in the most northern part of the area Grow Appalachia serves, we are starting to see the fruits of our labor! We have a new project underway that will help us provide more learning resources for our families that we’re calling our Demo Garden at one of Grow Ohio Valley’s urban greenspaces, the Outdoor Learning Center.

U.O.V Takes On O.L.C

The Outdoor Learning Center or OLC has been used for educational programming with urban youth of East Wheeling in previous years. Truthfully, the space is difficult to garden with no water access except down the street at Farm 18, one of our main production sites. There’s also general construction as a backdrop and overpass transportation noise that can remove the peace one can feel while gardening. We have decided to take on this space to show that you can garden even what you might think is an inhospitable place.

St. Xavier’s Service Day

We haven’t saved all the fun of gardening the OLC for ourselves though. St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio has sent two work groups to assist Grow Ohio Valley and other local organizations in projects that need extra hands. We had them weeding, seeding, mulching,  fertilizing, and picking up trash during their time with us. Most of the students did not have much experience with gardening prior to their service week but took to things very quickly, including broadforking the beds!

Whatcha Growin’?

Well we’ve made it this far into our post, and you’re probably asking yourself what are we growing at the OLC? We have transplanted nightshades such as eggplants, tomatillos, and tomatoes into our beds. We also had chamomile growing previously and added some more herbs to encourage community members to pick whatever they’d like from the beds. The St. Xavier’s crew planted patty pan squash in our Hugelkutur bed, which is a raised garden bed that is built from the bottom up with logs, sticks and branches, wood chips, grass clippings, manure, leaves, food scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds… everything you would put into a compost heap. We are planning to add some cut flower varieties such as Zinnias and pollinators to beautify the space as well.

We are hoping to take our participant’s input and form the garden around their questions surrounding gardening. This is a project we are looking forward to providing to our participants and fine tuning to their needs. Stay tuned for our progression with the demo garden!