The South Cumminsville Community Garden (SCCG) was established seven years ago to provide a source of healthy food, to reutilize vacant residential land, create space for neighbors to gather, and to beautify the neighborhood. Neighborhood residents recognized that a community garden could address lack of fresh food access and poor health in several ways: Providing a free source of food can help low-income families stretch their budgets, eating produce from a young age establishes healthy eating habits that carry over into adulthood, and gardening promotes physical. In addition – it creates ownership in the community where COMMUNITY is alive, well, and activated.

After some routine testing to determine the integrity of the soil in early spring, community gardeners were on alert after they learned of the results. The soil tests revealed a lead value of 695 parts per millions which is much higher than 200 parts per million, the recommended lead value for gardening. Susan Jorgensen, WIN’s Fresh Food Access Coordinator | AmeriCorps VISTA, sprung into action and in May, gathered a group of volunteers and built thirteen raised beds to address the lead found in the community garden. Susan and her team were supported in this effort by the Civic Garden Center, who donated lumber for the project; Tim Canady, who donated his time and tools to help build the raised bed; and Groundwork Cincinnati Mill Creek, who helped us find volunteers to hit the ground building!

The SCCG serves both gardeners and the wider community. Gardeners receive a supply of produce that is low-cost and within walking distance, eliminating crucial barriers to accessing food. In addition, SCCG serves the wider neighborhood through a group of eighteen community fruit trees which anyone is welcome to harvest from, creating a source of healthy food for all residents. The South Cumminsville Summer Youth Enrichment Program also involves children/youth in the garden, as they harvest fruit from the trees to share with their families.