LIMA — While signs have been posted since November, Friday night gave the South Jackson Street neighborhood its first look into the potential of a new community garden located at 200 S. Jackson St.
“It’s going to be great,” John Gonzales said. As the food sourcer with the West Ohio Food Bank, Gonzales had been asked to check out the new garden, and he found another great food resource for the community.
“Our main goal is we’re feeding families. To be involved in any way with feeding families that’s what we want to do, and I think with the collaboration in the Lima community, it will help keep food from going to waste,” Gonzales said.
The South Jackson community garden is Lima’s newest. Formed through partnerships with the City of Lima, Ohio State Lima and The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture, the project aims to transform vacant land into an urban garden and community space for the Jackson neighborhood with funding provided through a university grant.
Right now, the plot is relatively sparse, but what the garden may look like in the near future has been marked out with stakes and plastic lines. Plans include an open-air shelter that can be used to educate community members on healthy food preparation, a small amphitheater for community events and plenty of space for a number of garden beds.
Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, a field specialist with the OSU extension community development division, estimates construction will begin within a few weeks with a final completion date set for early fall. In the meantime, group partners plan on holding monthly events at the site — scheduled for the last Friday of every month — to show those in the community that progress is being made.
As for this Friday, community organizations focused on encouraging healthy and active lifestyles came to show off what they plan to use the site for.
Richard Conley, a Lima Sprouts gardener, said he’ll be working to maintain the plants on the site. During Friday’s event, his display showed off some seedlings ready for transplant that will give the garden its start.
“We’ll focus on crops that can grow all season and trying to get this garden up for the community,” Conley said.
Jackie Augustine, the program chair of the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society, had set up a small tent during Friday’s event to show attendees what they can do to attract birds in the area. The group also handed out native plant seeds that will provide food for birds via attracting caterpillars, which can be planted throughout the city to create areas receptive to the animals.
Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center officials were also on hand. Cory Werts, the chief nursing officer, said that a project like the South Jackson’s Community Garden is a great example of a community project that aligns with the values of the medical center, which will use the space to educate the community on healthy foods.
“We try to teach kids healthy choices,” Community Affairs Coordinator Ann Stiles said. “We teach kids young so they can bring it with them in their adult lives.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.