Trendspotting: Community Gardens

Planting Seeds of Hope


By Teresa Woodard

In Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch, reporter Allison Manning wrote an eye-opening, front-page report “Kids Killing Kids” about teen violence especially in four of our city’s urban zip codes.  Later in the afternoon, I found myself on the fringes of one of those zip codes visiting a community garden, 4th Street Farm, as part of a photo assignment.

Yes, this garden was a bit overgrown with weeds much like my own garden at this time of year, but I couldn’t help but smile as I saw residents passing through the garden or reading on a bench.  What a hopeful spot in a challenged neighborhood! In such urban pockets, the Dispatch reports more than half of the households live below the poverty level, 30 percent of the housing units are vacant, nearly 9 in 10 births are to unmarried women, and kids grow up learning a “shoot or die” way of life.

Curious to learn more about the garden, I checked out the 4th Street Farms’ website to find details about the groups that came together to design and install the gardens.  This outpouring of community support no doubt must lift the spirits of a struggling community, connect the neighborhood’s youth with positive role models active in the project and share the hopeful rewards that gardening so generously affords to all.

Thanks to these generous volunteers and sponsors who are planting seeds of hope at this community garden and so many others!  To learn more, check out American Community Gardens Association.

Catch Us If You Can

Catch Us If You Can:

Debra Knapke

Fall is the time for apples and you can read Debra’s article “The Apple” in edibleColumbus.  You can also catch her at the Delaware County Master Gardeners Workshop: “Landscape Design Basics” on Saturday, October 12th at the Columbus State – Delaware Campus.  She will be joining landscape architect Dennis Karem, landscape designer and TV garden host Tom Wood and nurseryman Dave Dannaher to present a day of information anyone who gardens… or would like to.  For registration information check out the Delaware County Master Gardeners Facebook Page.

If black tea is a beverage you enjoy and you would like to know more, Debra will be offering: “Black Tea: The Beverage of Contemplation” at the Ohio Herb Education Center on Saturday, October 19th at 1:00.

Teresa Woodard

You’ll find Teresa’s latest home and garden stories in Ohio Magazine “Timber-framed Treasure”, Country Gardens “Native American Pawpaws”, edibleColumbus “Shamrock Vineyards and The Delaware Grape”, Columbus Monthly Home & Garden “A Tale of Two Homes” and “Designer Profile”, and Ohio Gardener “Garden Profile: Designed for Fall”.

Trendspotting: Beekeeping

Old garden now abuzz with possibilitieschecking hive 4-18-09 resize

Text by Michael Leach; photos by Debra Knapke and Teresa Woodard

When my neighbor John asked about putting a beehive behind my falling-down tool barn, I readily agreed. Keeping bees was on my bucket list because they are under such stress worldwide. The daily to-do list, however, usually trumps the bucket list. This was obviously a win-win deal.

I envisioned occasional jars of honey as rent, not a beekeeper’s suit and smoker. But John brought an extra white suit, complete with hood, veil and elbow-length gloves, along with the bees. When heading out to the hive, we look like a pair of hazmat techs with a wisp of white smoke trailing behind.checking hive 2 4-18-09 resize

The bees have a safe home base in my acre-plus yard. Being overworked, plus being too lazy to keep up a spray schedule and too cheap to buy chemicals, makes me a mostly organic gardener by default. Signs of backyard eco-health are sometimes startling — a clod of dirt that hops. It’s only a toad.

More than my appearance has changed since the bees arrived. For several years garden planning focused mostly on coping with maintenance. Such is the price of allowing my passion to run wild years ago when there was more energy than insight into what I was creating. (Dr. Frankenstein no doubt suffered from a similar problem.)

From now on, when there’s time, money and gumption, landscape beds will be renovated with an eye toward flowers, whether on trees, shrubs, vines, perennials or annuals. Bees need plenty of food. For instance, a huge order of snow crocus is planned so there’ll be a treat for the bees when they emerge on those warmish days of early spring.Crocus

First they have to survive winter. John cooks up sugar-water syrup, similar to hummingbird food, to fill the hive’s feeder trays. The bees transform this into honey. When the stack of three wooden bee boxes becomes too heavy to lift, they should have sufficient honey stored for winter.

While our share of their efforts is perhaps a year away, the bees are already enriching my life. Their gentle humming is a welcome addition to the nature chorus of birds and summer insects. Plus there’s an amazing sense of interdependence that makes gardening seem vital. I grow flowers to enjoy, but now to feed bees as well. Someday they will feed me.

Great pumpkins and more

pumpkin show

Photo credit: Circleville Pumpkin Show

By Michael Leach

The Midwest may lack dramatic rocky spires of the West or the endless vistas along ocean shores. But our open countryside, wooded hills and forests make kaleidoscopic spectacles themselves in autumn that make aspens and white sand seem little more than monochromatic bores.

Many Midwest pumpkin-centric events are already past but others lie ahead. (Please check

One of the biggest and oldest is the Circleville Pumpkin Show (OH) show, Oct. 16-19.

Weigh-in at Circleville Pumpkin Show

Weigh-in at Circleville Pumpkin Show

Started in 1903 as a way to help city and country people come together, it stretches eight blocks in the town, about 30 minutes south of downtown Columbus. Rides, food booths, games, craft vendors, and pumpkins by the thousands, including the champions that can weigh about half a ton.

According to Pumpkin Nook,  there’s the Sitllwater, MN, Harvestfest and Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Oct. 12; and two events in Wisconsin, the Mishicot Pumpkin Fest  Oct. 19 and the Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Festival Oct. 5

Other fall fruits are celebrated at the Chicago Botanical Garden with its Midwest Fruit Explorers Show & Sale  Oct. 19-20. Stars of this show include apples, pears, paw paws, grapes and kiwis. Tasting and information on growing fruit planned. Apples, cider and more for sale.

hopsAnother plant — hops —  takes center stage at the Missouri Botanical Garden Fest-of-Ale  Oct. 18  6-9 p.m. It’s the  6th annual celebration of local beer.

True, the season brims with necessary and optional garden chores, but don’t spend all your time working. Savor this season by taking frequent breaks in the garden, and walking in nearby parks, botanical gardens, arboretums, forests or country lanes.

Garden Topics

%d bloggers like this: