December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria officials hope demolished homes become gardens

ELYRIA — City officials are making available several cleared plots in neighborhoods where small community gardens can be planted.

The parcels once supported homes, but as the city goes through the demolition of several properties, it wants to make at least some of the land available to city residents with a green thumb. There are eight properties in total that will be available, said Mayor Holly Brinda.

In 2012, the city made two plots available.

Brinda said growing the community garden initiative benefits the community in several ways.

“Community gardens give friends and neighbors a chance to grow fruits and vegetables as well as friendships,” she said. “Last year, two plots were used as community gardens and the results were wonderful. Residents were able to grow vegetables in a sustainable way that bettered the neighborhood.”

The aspect of more community gardens really excites Holly Huff, who was behind the first two community gardens. One is located at the corner of Chestnut Street and North Avenue, and the second is near the former Cascade School that is now is owned and operated by Horizons Activities Center.

“I’ve always wanted more gardens. Five years of work and we are finally there,” she said. “I think it really needed people who realized how important it is to build community and gardens can do that.”

Huff, who also head of the Cascade/Furnace Block Watch, said that for too many years she didn’t know the people living in her neighborhood. She thought starting a garden would change strangers to friends. Years later, she has learned how right she was.

“I know my neighbors, my neighbors know me and I know we are putting food in this neighborhood,” she said. “I know who in my neighborhood needs food, and so does others. Now, it’s nothing for someone to pick some vegetables and give them to those in need. Then they are needy no more.”

The concept of small gardens in city landscapes is nothing new. Urban farming, as many call it, is increasing in the country as people look for ways to cut food cost and increase the availability of fresh produce.

It is an initiative that is supported by the Ohio State University Extension Office. Brinda said the Lorain County office will provide educational material and workshops for residents to attend. Training sessions in Cuyahoga County are also being made available to Lorain County residents.

Elyria garden plot locations

• 9 Shear St.

• 317 Furnace St.

• 428 Mussey Ave.

• 124 West Bridge St.

• 331 Lowell St.

• 442 Louisiana Ave.

• 110 Woodbury St.

• 219 Sumner St.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.