What’s Growing On: Grow a Rainbow

Ever wondered what it would be like to grow your own cucumbers, fresh thyme, mint, melons, and squash? Have you ever watched your kid taste a cherry tomato, right off the vine? Getting involved with a community garden or a local CSA (community supported agriculture project) can make these experiences a reality, at a reasonable cost. The Glass City has more than 200 community gardens and organic CSAs, so getting involved is easy. What are you waiting for? Let’s get growing.

Positive change

Community gardens allow folks to grow fresh, organic produce for their families. Many parents are making the choice buy organic produce to eliminate pesticides from family diets. Growing your own food provides peace of mind that it contains the highest amount of nutrition- fresh from the ground.

Any parent knows how hard it can be to encourage children to eat healthy. Involving your children in the growing season can get them interested in healthy food, and educate them to make better choices when it’s time for dinner. Introducing your family to other socially conscious neighbors can be a reward in itself. Meet new friends and watch your children learn from others as they dig, weed, water, and harvest. Meet up for a potluck picnic or story hour in the garden, or host an kid friendly event of your own. Dance party in the garden!

The positive environmental impact of community gardening is significant. Gardens turn unused vacant lots into peaceful green spaces. Join a garden and help plant pollinator friendly native herbs and flowers that feed honey bees, butterflies, moths, bats and birds. Rain barrels are often used to trap rainwater to reduce water consumption. Small efforts, on a local level, are as vital to our planet as those on a federal, or even global, level. “Be the change you want to see in the world” has always been a great motto to teach to children. Community gardening can help you to live those words today!

Tender love and care

Toledo Grows (TG), an non-profit organization responsible for overseeing the creation of over 100 urban gardens in our area. TG provides resources like tools, soil and seeds for community gardens, hosts educational talks with Master Gardeners, organizes an Annual Seed Swap and provides hands on education and job training for area youth and community garden organizers throughout the greater Toledo area.

In addition to assisting local urban gardeners, the Robert J. Anderson Urban Agriculture Center, TG’s headquarters, houses a large greenhouse and expansive three acre farm in downtown Toledo. There are many ways to get involved with Toledo Grows. Families can volunteer at the Urban Farm on Wednesdays, and staff can help connect you to a community garden in your area. TG also offers a CSA share where families can take home fresh produce by signing up for a membership, or stop by the Market Stand, Thursday 11am-3pm, during the growing season.

900 Oneida St, Toledo | Thursdays, 11a-3p

Food forest

Collingwood Garden is being converted into an edible ‘food forest’, providing nutritious food to the neighborhood. For the last several years, the gardeners have been working hard to create a natural, sustainable landscape, implementing sophisticated companion planting techniques. Families looking to volunteer can stop by the garden or contact the group on FB.

2472 Collingwood Blvd, Toledo

Uptown garden

Located in Toledo’s Uptown, the Manos Community Garden sprouted in 2011. The space is open to families interested in starting their own raised bed or garden plot. Grow your own food and herbs, and help to keep the space clean and free of debris. Community garden organizer, Alison Osmun told us about her favorite space in the garden. “The entire garden is beautiful from the painted, colorful raised garden beds to the tiled and painted murals, the native plant terrace and the blooming front border beds, herb and berry bushes…” This garden has everything.

Jackson & 14th St, Toledo

It takes a farm

Things are moving and shaking at the Toledo University Church urban farm and community garden. TUC’s motto, “Growing food, growing awareness, growing compassion” has served them well on their 9 acre farm. Started in 2010 with the mission to provide greater access to fresh produce to Toledo’s underserved community, this urban farm has undergone an impressive transformation thanks to countless hours of sweat and hard work.

Seven years later the space boosts a 2000 plant vertical growing system, an orchard, apiary for honey bees, chicken coops, raised beds, greenhouses, garden sheds and hoop houses. Families can get involved in a variety of ways, from growing their own food, to harvesting produce to be donated to local food pantries, like Food For Thought.

4747 Hill Ave, Toledo

River Road legacy

Perrysburg is home to one of the area’s treasures—the 577 Foundation. Founded in 1989, the space is a natural wonderland right on the Maumee. In addition to hosting community lessons for adults and kids, a historic log cabin, a nature walk, and a library, 577 is home to the area’s only geodesic biodome, housing tropical plants in a year-round greenhouse. 577 offers free community garden plots to families. Come for a visit and talk to the staff about becoming a member of the garden.

577 East Front St, Perrysburg

Common good garden

Those in the Bowling Green community are welcome to join the community garden at Peace Lutheran Church. For over ten years, this garden has been growing food for the community with a ‘giving garden’ model — anyone is welcome to harvest and take what they need while the majority of the produce is donated to the Brown Bag Food Project. Volunteers welcome.

1021 W Wooster St, Bowling Green

Real farm to table

CSAs are another way to bring fresh produce, herbs, eggs, honey and more home to your table. Community shared agriculture allows families to buy a membership, which assures a share of the harvest, at a local organic farm or garden.

Ottawa Lake Heritage Farm
4337 Smith Rd, Ottawa Lake, MI | FB

Bittersweet Farms
12660 Archbold-Whitehouse Rd, Whitehouse | bittersweetfarms.org

Shared Legacy Farms
3701 S Schultz-Portage Rd, Elmore | sharedlegacyfarms.com

Friendship Farms
9960 S Berkey Southern Rd, Waterville | friendshipfarmscsa.com
Schooner Farms
14890 Otsego Pike, Weston | schoonerberries.com

Toledo Grows
900 Oneida St, Toledo | toledogrows.org