Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden

Partner Site for Grow Appalachia
and Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati

Adopted by Mark and Kym Kuenning


The historic Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden was the first community garden in Cincinnati and is an excellent example of people coming together to improve a neighborhood and build a beautiful garden in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.  In 1980, Over-the-Rhine community members and the Civic Garden Center worked together to turn four East McMicken Avenue vacant lots into a productive vegetable garden.  As a result of the project’s success the Civic Garden Center established the Neighborhood Gardens Program (now the Community Gardens Program) and has helped community groups start and maintain over 50 successful community gardens throughout the Greater Cincinnati Area’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.  In 2013 the Civic Garden Center purchased the remaining two lots and now the garden will remain a community-centered vegetable garden for years to come.

In 2014 Civic Garden Center began collaborating with Grow Appalachia to improve the garden after Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati employee, Christina Howarth-Matthews, personally met with John Paul Dejoria in Toledo, OH.  John Paul agreed to give the Civic Garden Center ‘s Over the Rhine People’s Garden $10,000.  The funds were used to:

  • Build 40+ new raised beds with cedar wood and two raised multi-generational beds
  • Procure organic GMO free seeds
  • Construct a greenhouse shed for season extension, storage and compost
  • Purchase art supplies for beautification projects
  • Pay for contractors to re-build beds and repair the retaining wall in the Children’s Garden

In 2015, Grow Appalachia donated $2,500 for:

  • Compost
  • “Market Gardening” classes
  • Lawn mower
  • Security- lighting
  • Chalk board (for communication between gardeners)

According to its website, Grow Appalachia, “emphasizes food production in order to introduce as much no-cost, fresh, healthy food as possible to the region. The basic goal is to help as many families grow as much of their own food as possible.”  Grow Appalachia is made possible by funding from John Paul Dejoria, co-founder and owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems which operates the local Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati.  An employee of Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati, Christina Howarth-Matthews,  and neighborhood school teacher, Ali Burns, saw the great need faced by the neighborhood surrounding Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden and together they successfully applied for a grant from Grow Appalachia to support the garden.  OTR resident,  Michael “Bashi”Jackson has also put a lot of time and energy in the garden as a dedicated volunteer and completed a big portion of the construction work by building the new beds, he mows the garden weekly (weather permitting) and has formed relationships with community members to encourage more neighbors to be involved. Employees of Paul Mitchell The School Cincinnati have volunteered their time to work alongside community residents to improve the garden and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables.  More than 4,000 lbs. of produce were harvested during last year’s growing season.

Paul Mitchell the School Cincinnati personally got involved with the garden thanks to the culture in its’ schools. The culture of its’ schools encourages individuals to do more for their community and self.  As the active Green Team leader at Paul Mitchell the School Cincinnati and lover of growing food, Christina Howarth-Matthews thought that Grow Appalachia, Paul Mitchell Schools and CGC would meld beautifully together.  Two years later these partners have all accomplished more than anyone could have ever imagined.  The Civic Garden Center thanks John Paul DeJoria for his gift of giving and supporting his team’s work from Paul Mitchell the School Cincinnati.

The Civic Garden Center thanks Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden contributors for their generous gifts of time, talent and treasure:

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Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden, 49 East McMicken Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45210