LIMA — A partnership between Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods in Partnership and organizations such as St. Rita’s Medical Center is yielding a bumper crop of community gardens.
Representatives from LACNIP, St. Rita’s and other organizations participating in LACNIP’s Community Garden Program came together Monday at the “flagship” community garden at the corner of West Spring and South Collett streets to highlight the progress made at that garden and others thanks to a $2,500 grant from St. Rita’s. With LACNIP able to match the grant dollar for dollar, the neighborhood partnership has been able to create nine community gardens throughout the city this year while also making several improvements, including the expansion of the Spring Street Garden to include several new raised beds.
“The vertical grow boxes are all new here this year, too, and there are six of those,” LACNIP Community Garden Chair Rob Cotrell said. “Different groups have different boxes. [For example,] Restoration House has two boxes. There are also private gardeners here.”
The garden features a wide variety of produce, from grapes to zucchini and other squash to peaches. As the community garden initiative aims to grow even more, expanding from nine locations to 12 next year and perhaps 15 the year after, its goal continues to be the eradication of food deserts in the city, giving all residents reasonable access to healthy food, according to Cotrell. That goal is in line with St. Rita’s mission of promoting community wellness and community involvement, according to St. Rita’s Grounds Department Group Leader Devin Holtzapple.
“We’re educating people to eat healthier,” he said. “When people can come out here and get fresh produce, it’s fantastic. It’s preventative maintenance.”
In addition to St. Rita’s, Cotrell also credited the Ohio Department of Transportation, the city of Lima Parks and Recreation Department and Re:Source Recycling, among others, with helping provide materials for the community garden project. Autumn Swanson, Neighborhood Specialist for the City of Lima, is hopeful to see more partners come alongside LACNIP as the garden program continues to grow.
“The more partners we get in supporting this, the more community development you’ll see going forward,” she said.