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Growing to Green award garden: New Harvest garden (4)

  • Subject: [cg] Growing to Green award garden: New Harvest garden (4)
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 19:36:47 -0800 (PST)

Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Sunday, January 29, 2006
(forwarded by Bill Dawson)

CULTIVATING A COMMUNITY 4
by Robin Chenoweth

NEW HARVEST 
A bounty grows for all who wish to partake 

Kwodwo Ababio doesn't want anyone to focus too much on
New Harvest Garden. 

"We don't want you to get the idea it's just the
garden," the social worker said of the Lindenarea
initiative he started two years ago. 

"It is a neighborhood effort to try to get people more
involved with each other, beautifying the community." 

Indeed, on an autumn Saturday, volunteers gathered to
hack down head-high weeds growing around numerous
abandoned houses in the neighborhood. 

Ababio, wearing a west African kofi hat, looked
earnest as he leaned on a shovel. 

"The garden," he explained, "was just the catalyst to
bring the neighbor back into the neighborhood." 

An inducement but also a balm for a hurting community.


The 500-square-foot lot sits between a Cleveland
Avenue pawnshop and an alley off Arlington Avenue, a
green jewel on the stained and weathered hand of a day
laborer. 

Above a rosebush and some fading sunflowers, the words
Ama Vera's Garden christen the space. Last August,
Vera Breckenridge was fatally shot on her front porch
a half-block away. Her children had helped rake soil
and plant seeds in what would become a living homage
to their mother. 

Ababio waded into chest-high herbs to investigate what
grew beneath. 

He crushed some seeds, and the sweet aroma of basil
and lemon balm drifted down the alley. Tomato plants
were bereft of fruit. The collards and cabbage were
gone; the okra and peppers but a savory memory. All
were taken by one neighbor or another, usually at
night when no one was looking. 

A wiry volunteer named Is Said helped clean and plant
the plot. He has seldom seen a red tomato there. The
neighbors eat them fried and green in most cases. 

"We planted 12 cabbages; they took 10," he said. "We
know one thing: We fed some people. Who it was, we
don't know. But they ate out here real good. . . . But
that's what it's for; it's a community garden." 

The plot has no fences. New Harvest welcomes anyone to
enter and partake. 

"If you take something, maybe next year you give
something back, even if it's your effort to come out
and plant seeds," Abadio said, "Gardening is just one
method of educating people." 

The group plans to sow a 2-acre plot in summer and use
its produce to make soups and salads for its community
center, New Harvest Urban Arts Complex. 

"The only way to change the attitude of the
neighborhood is for us to get involved," Ababio said.
"We have to get aggressive. Communities are like
gardens. If you let the weeds take over, it turns into
a weed garden.'


______________________________________________________
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