“If you have your hands in the Earth you’re more likely to save it.”
In the spring of 2019 in Medina, Ohio a City Council meeting was held that featured Girl Scouts who spoke on the subject of banning plastic bags. As a result, a conversation among four people who attended that meeting became focused on forming a sustainability organization. The conversation led to the formation of a nonprofit corporation called SustainEd. From April to August of 2019, with much support from a local garden center, various businesses and individuals, the Medina Community Garden and Education Center was founded. One of the founders, Erin Masterson, applied for our Gardening Know How sponsorship. She serves as President of SustainEd.
The Medina Community Garden is now a lush enclosed 5,000 square foot space, with 17 garden beds available to the community and 8 larger beds sponsored by various organizations. Individual community members can rent 4X8 beds for $40 each per year. If gardeners clean their space at the end of growing season, they’re refunded $20. Gardeners can hold on to their plots and grow into the fall or plant cover crops to overwinter them.
Serving the Community
The garden donates the use of larger plots that are maintained by organizations like Catholic Charities, whose public food shelf is available to everyone, offering fresh produce, flowers and organically grown food, a preferable alternative to the usual food bank canned and packaged foods.
One 3-tiered bed is occupied by the Medina County Herbal Society, whose members teach classes for gardeners interested in growing and using fresh herbs. Another large bed is maintained by the local Master Gardener program. Medina County’s district library maintains a plot in the garden and provides story time and healthy snacks in their after-school program.
The Importance of Education
Master Gardeners from Ohio State University maintain their own edible landscaping plot and hold monthly free gardening classes at their plot location where people can learn in more depth about the value of growing our own food sustainably.
In addition to a wide variety of gardeners and vegetation, Medina’s garden includes a beehive, a composting station and “kids korner.” A bustling, busy neighborhood space, Medina’s community garden is a fun and intriguing learning environment with added features to accommodate everyone in the community. One example is the Melody Garden, where kids can experience and create sounds and melodies from different pipes and tubes arranged along the garden fence. Another is the “kids yoga” program held in the garden. The garden grants volunteer hours for work in the garden by student council members and scout groups. Kids aged 9 to 12 in the local 4-H program called “Sprouts” grew a salsa garden with coaching from the Master Gardener program. They entered their yummy salsa into the county fair!
Free instructional sessions range from subjects like basic planting, composting, succession planting and waste reduction to specifics, like growing garlic and onions. Master gardeners provide these classes using their own plots as demonstration areas.
Empowering the Community
A goal of this impressive project reveals its underlying philosophy, to “empower the community to create a sustainable future through action, education and advocacy.” While it’s a great place to grow organic food and attend classes and gatherings, there’s a higher aspiration here to influence and educate the community about sustainability and how we can contribute to a healthier planet. We are happy to support these amazing people who turned an idea and a discussion into a burgeoning, ecologically sound community project.
Every year, Gardening Know How awards $1,000 to 20 different, hand-picked garden projects across the United States and Canada. If your community or school garden has a growing, unmet need for more soil, seeds, fertilizers, building materials, or even just help getting the word out about your program, we’re ready and willing to help you meet those needs. As community gardens and school gardening programs spring up all over, we’re happy to do our part to help. Click here to learn more about how to apply to the GKH Sponsorship.
Interested in learning more about school or community gardens? Visit our Community Gardening for Everyone page today.