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Springfield, Ohio: It's a Garden Spot

  • Subject: [cg] Springfield, Ohio: It's a Garden Spot
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 01:07:20 EDT

It's a garden spot
An overgrown vacant lot at Johnson and Ontario avenues used to be a catch-all for trash and debris.
Now it produces a bounty of fresh vegetables from kale to tomatoes to okra.
The Great Lakes Neighborhood Association uses the lot for a community garden it started about three years ago.
"It gives people a chance to unite and talk to each other," organizer Gale May said. "Normally we don't even see each other. But everyone comes out and talks when you're (in the garden). It opens up the neighborhood."
Great Lakes has planted two plots so far this spring and will plant two more with children from Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority on Wednesday. If anyone wants to help, they can call May at 324-3528.
The Ohio State University Extension Office provides the plants, flowers and tools for more than 30 community gardens in Clark County.
Master Gardener Terry Smith is the community garden coordinator.
Community gardens unite residents and beautify their areas, Smith said.
They also inspire people.
"The business people will be out sweeping their sidewalks," Smith said. "People are doing more, doing flowers, and taking care of their property a little better."
In addition to Great Lakes, Smith works with several other neighborhood associations. The South Plum Street Neighborhood Association has a vegetable garden, as well as some flower beds.
The garden is in a playground behind President Rick Grubb's house. It has 10 to 12 plots for neighbors.
"When we're out walking by and see weeds, we'll stop and pull them," Grubb said. "The flowers make the neighborhood look a little nicer. It brings the neighbors together."
Others like the Selma Road Neighborhood Action Program and East Lagonda Hill Association plant flowers around their signs.
SNAP puts in flowers around its sign and in three planters around the area.
"We just try to help the neighborhood look a lot better and bring some bright colors in," said SNAP President Teresa Mills.
East Lagonda Hill President Jack Clark likes to make the neighborhood sign more attractive. This year he has a special idea in mind for the flowers.
"We want something red, white and blue to honor the United States," he said.
Flower beds combined with the signs make a warm welcome into a neighborhood, said Jackie Sudhoff, city housing programs coordinator.
The city of Springfield provides associations with $300 they can spend on their neighborhood, including on gardens if they want.
The OSU Extension program also received $5,000 a year from the city's Community Development Block Grant. That money has run dry, so Smith stockpiled supplies, accepted donations and is looking for other grants.
She provides more than the supplies. Smith helps on-site, showing how to till and plant, and is available all summer to answer gardening questions.
Smith remembered one woman who hadn't gardened.
"She had never put a plant in the ground and never knew how to do it," Smith said. "Now she and her kids know. She worked all summer in the garden and put more and more plants at her home even, because she had more confidence."
Reach Samantha Sommer
at ssommer@coxohio.com

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