For nearly 40 years CGC has been working with neighborhood residents and community-based organizations to create community gardens as well as providing technical support and advanced training in growing fruits and vegetables using organic practices. Our goal is to not only to start community gardens but to provide ongoing support so they will be sustainable and thrive into the future. Community gardens provide neighborhood residents the opportunity to have direct access to the fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables that support a healthy lifestyle.
The first community garden was the Over-The-Rhine People’s Garden, built in 1980. Since then community gardening has blossomed all across the Greater Cincinnati Area. There are over 50 of these magnificent green and growing areas throughout the city. These thriving green spaces create a nurturing refuge, often in places where there are no other parks or green space available. Often the gardens are responsible for cleaning up and converting blighted, vacant lots – improving the image of the neighborhood, how people feel about their community and themselves. The gardens bring people together, helping to build the bonds of community that include populations with diverse backgrounds and demographics within the neighborhood.
A core component of the Community Gardens Program is the Community Garden Development Training (CGDT) program. CGDT offers a unique and successful set of tools to help neighbors of all ages come together to create community gardens. The heart of CGDT twelve class series is the peer-centered curriculum that allows participants to share their talents and utilize community resources to develop and implement neighborhood gardening projects. The CGDT curriculum is three-fold covering community development, garden administration and gardening practices.
Our award-winning Community Gardens Program is one of the Civic Garden Center’s longest-standing community outreach efforts. Starting with a pilot garden in 1980, the program was formally established in 1981(as the Neighborhood Gardens Program) to assist community groups, primarily in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods to create community gardens. The current Community Gardens Program continues to provide individuals and groups technical assistance, leadership training, horticulture education and start-up support to help them successfully organize, plan, build, and sustain their gardens. Over the years the program has evolved to meet the needs of diverse populations and cultural trends by expanding to include youth and school gardens, pantry gardens, Permaculture projects and public foraging forest garden site.
Our experience has demonstrated the practical value of these projects:
• Community gardens bring people together, helping to build relationships between families, neighbors, schools, and community.
• Community Gardens offer participants direct access to fresh, nutritious produce.
• Community garden programs teach participants self-reliance and a variety of skills useful in running the gardens and in other aspects of community work and family life.
• Gardening provides unique recreational outlets and a healthy source of exercise for people of all ages.
• Cleaning up and converting blighted vacant lots improves the image of the neighborhood, how people feel about it and about themselves, research shows that this kind of community involvement can actually help reduce vandalism and bring down crime rates.
• Participation in gardening teaches the practical value and benefits of community and environmental stewardship.
• Community beautification can help raise adjacent property values and attract new residents and businesses to the neighborhood.
• There are potential economic benefits, as gardeners of all ages have the opportunity to participate in local farmers markets and develop marketable products from their garden.
• Gardening offers a valuable resource to agencies working with clients to provide horticultural, occupational and recreational therapies.
• The gardens lend themselves to a wealth of creative educational opportunities for schools, daycare centers and neighborhood youth.
• A place for adults and youth to work together in a non-competitive environment, giving them an opportunity to experience success and failure without judgment.