Race Street Garden

Adopted by Betsy Townsend


The Race Street Children’s Garden was established in 1989 by adult gardeners at the original Pleasant Street Garden, a vegetable-producing community garden located across the alley. The Pleasant Street gardeners created the Race Street Children’s Garden primarily on their own initiative.  The CGC Community Gardens Program’s support was responsible for the infrastructure including the water tap, fencing and plants.  The garden has been a site for the CGC’s Summer Youth Gardening Program (now called “Summer Sprouts“) since its creation.

In 1995 the Race Street Children’s site was at risk of being sold, along with adjacent vacant lots and buildings, for redevelopment. The community spoke up for the value of the gardens and the City removed the lots from the Request for Proposals process for redevelopment.  Since 2010 there is a new wave of development along Race, Pleasant and Elm Streets, including the City Homes Project on Pleasant Street that backs up to the garden, the renewal of Washington Park (a block from the garden) as well as single family housing and restaurants along Race Street.  With this development there is a changing resident demographic, with fewer young children living in the neighborhood.

In response to the changing dynamics of the neighborhood the CGC organized community meetings to envision a new mission for the garden as well as a new design to meet the evolving needs of the neighborhood.  Through an inclusive community-based design process, led by landscape architect Rachel Steele Robinson and former CGC Youth Education Program Coordinator Madeline Dorger, a new design was developed and the garden renamed the Race Street Garden.

During 2013 the garden was rebuilt with twelve new community garden beds for neighboring residents to grow fruits, vegetables and edible landscaping.  A new fence was installed to enhance the garden’s street-side flower beds.  There are also common areas for people to meet and relax and for children from the School for Creative and Performing Arts to use as an outdoor classroom.  SCPA also has their own vegetable garden bed.

The Race Street Children’s Garden redesign into a community garden truly meets the needs of the ever-changing Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.  The garden design features a curvi-linear path that circles the mature productive apple tree and increases the usable space in the garden creating places where young children can learn and play and families can grow vegetables.

It is also important to acknowledge the generosity of many of the new neighborhood residents for donating funds, time and hard work to the project and most importantly a sprit of collaboration, inclusiveness and love of gardening.  In addition we would like to thank Keep Cincinnati Beautiful for providing funds, through a Safe & Clean grant, to assist in the gardens renewal.  Civic Garden Center also gratefully acknowledges the support of Betsy Townsend for her Adopt-a-Garden sponsorship of the Race Street Garden.

Race Street Garden, 1409-1411 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH  45202.