Community gardens helping to feed the poor and elderly

Community gardens helping to feed the poor and elderly (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It's peak harvest time for backyard gardeners who are enjoying the great taste of fresh tomatoes, peppers and squash.

It's also a busy time for the dozens of community gardens that have popped up with the help of Cincinnati's Civic Garden Center. All over Cincinnati there are former vacant lots that are no longer going to seed but now bearing fruit. And former lawns like the space at St. Clare Convent the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor have turned into a community garden. Friday morning, August 26, Bhutanese refugees that tilled 40 plots were raising the vegetables they eat two meals a day.

$30 plus a $25 deposit gets a 10 by 20 plot for an entire growing season. 79 people are growing their own this year.

Marci Peebles of the Franciscan Community Garden said, “So it fits right in with the sister’s mission, with Franciscan Ministries Mission, and just the mission that we're all called to help each other.”

What people grow they keep. Most grow enough to share with neighbors and friends. The community gardens are a lot more than something cool and convenient. The garden in Walnut Hills is exclusively for raising fresh vegetables for people who can't afford to buy them.

Sue Plummer oversees the team of volunteers who plant, weed, and water the raised beds at the Julie Hanser Garden on Stanton Avenue. They feed a lot of people through Mercy Neighborhood Ministries food pantry.

Plummer said, “We've gotten up to 1,300 pounds a season. We're a little low this year because of bugs and things like that. We lost our cucumbers to cucumber beetles.”

Plummer and other community garden coordinators depend on the Civic Garden Center for advice and help getting grants. The center oversees about 50 community gardens.

Greg Potter of the Civic Garden Center said, “There's nothing like fresh vegetables. There's nothing like sharing somebody's garden stories with them. People come together across food so this is a wonderful way to get people together.”

And keep them fed by good neighbors with green thumbs and big hearts. The Civic Garden Center has been sponsoring community gardens for 36 years.

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