Hello Grow Appalachia friends!
Since our last entry the season has turned over to fall, and we are now busy removing the old tomatoes and peppers and adding in new vegetable plants like cabbage, kale, lettuces, peas, radish and many cool weather flowers and tulip bulbs. Garden Club is still meeting up twice a month, and over the past weeks the students of the club have painted and installed new garden signs, and helped prepare their garden beds for winter. Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden has been blessed to have some volunteers this month. With their help, and the leadership of our garden coordinator Jill, they were able to conquer the pile next to the compost area that has become over grown this season. We are just as busy as the squirrels this time of year!
Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden is so fortunate to have two garden coordinators, myself and Jill. Jill recently took some time to share some of her memories from Saturday mornings in the garden. After reading her beautiful words I knew I needed to share it here too. Enjoy!
Saturday Mornings in the Garden
By Jill Bader
Most Saturday mornings, you can find me in the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) People’s Garden, the urban garden I have helped coordinate for the past few years. I’m usually joined by a handful of other gardeners, including my husband. This past Saturday afternoon, as he and I were reflecting on the morning, I was struck by how many touch points we all experience with each other and with the neigh- bors of the garden.
When we arrived at the garden this Saturday, we discovered an odd collection of bicycle parts, propane tanks, and a trash bin on the sidewalk outside the garden gate. This happens occasionally and can be frustrating, but we try to be patient because the neighborhood is a mix of middle income, low income and, sadly, people experiencing homelessness. We try to foster good relationships with all, because our neighbors have been essential in keeping an eye on the garden and warding off vandalism. My husband, Chris, had a pleasant chat with a neighbor who knows the man who owns the items and promised to talk with him about relocating them.
Later in the morning, three children appeared in the garden. Neighborhood kids frequently stop by the garden, so we didn’t think anything about the fact that they were unaccompanied by an adult. The pure joy they emoted at being in the garden was amazing. They latched on to Andrea, who took them around the gar- den collecting vegetables to take home. They had been in the garden for a about a half an hour when I looked up from my weeding and spotted a very worried mama marching toward the garden. Apparently, the kids had wandered off from where they were supposed to be. They got the what-for from her as she led them away. Thankfully, mama must have appreciated the bag of vegetables because the kids reappeared in the garden a short time later. This time, Christina helped them cut some flowers for a beautiful bouquet that they took to their mother to apologize for wandering off.
After finishing off our work for the day, Andrea, Christina, and I plopped down in the garden for a chat. We are all passionate flower gar- deners, so we did some mutual admiration of what was in bloom in our beds. I pointed out all the flowers that I had recently exhibited in the Region 4 flower show and bragged a little about the ones that got blue ribbons. And we talked about what was going on in our person- al lives.
As our conversation wrapped up, one of my favorite neighbors, Monique stopped at the fence line to say hello. I met Monique last sum- mer when she stopped to admire the garden, and I sent her home with a bag of vegetables. About an hour later she was back with a plate of stir fry she had made for me with the produce I had given her.
A few weeks later she came to the garden with a very sad looking Roma tomato plant, asking
if I could take care of ‘Romey’. I didn’t think there was much hope for it, but I found an open spot in the garden and planted it. It thrived and produced a ton of fruit that summer. I still remember the final harvest of green tomatoes that I collected with Monique before the first hard frost.
The OTR People’s Garden provides a lot of benefits to the neighborhood. It’s a safe place for kids to experience nature, a producer of food for a local food bank, and a beautiful green space among the concrete jungle. These are all good reasons why it’s where we choose to spend our Saturday mornings, but for me the best is the community and relationships we build with each other as we do something we love.
Thank you for checking in with the oldest community garden located in Cincinnati, Ohio! We’ll be back with more updates next month.
Peace, Love, Flowers & Happiness
Christina- Garden Coordinator