Project Coordinator of Hope Community Garden, Jim Edwards, has made it a goal to transition the garden from a project relying on continuous funding through grants, to a self-sustaining market garden. Vegetables like eggplant, collards, cabbage, tomatoes and turnips have all been grown at the site, in addition to other usual varieties with an attempt to extend the growing season through the use of cloth row covers.
The decision to use the vacant land for a community garden was made by working closely with SafeSeventeen, a community group in Councilman Jay Westbrook’s ward involved in a number of activities including neighborhood beautification, property maintenance and crime prevention. The choice to re-purpose the vacant lots with a garden seemed the most advantageous because of its proximity to two apartment complexes whose residents could make use of a garden in the area.
Prior to all of the gardening activity now present on the land, the lots had fallen into disrepair and had become repositories for litter.
Since the garden’s inception, the community has taken the initiative to ensure its upkeep and many new residents have become gardeners. A resident living adjacent to the lots helps maintain them by occasionally cutting the grass when it starts getting too long and has also contributed to the project by constructing a decorative fence from materials purchased through the Re-imaging Cleveland grant. Others have helped maintain the garden by watering when it is needed. The hope to attract residents from recently developed loft spaces across the street from the garden also came to fruition, showing the ability of recently established gardens to ignite community responsiveness in new members on the street or in the neighborhood. According to Jim, it takes a while to create interest in a project when one is not from the community. But positive relationships begin to develop and an imperative to continue the community garden builds.
Hope Community Gardens is not just a space for those with a green thumb, residents who are not gardeners also use the area to relax and socialize. Members of the community have been observed knitting on benches and teens have occasionally designated the space to hang out and meet up with friends.
8808 Tompkins Avenue map
Jim Edwards Interview, 14 April 2010 (ID #AGR027)
Jim Edwards of Hope Community Garden describes his involvement in community outreach programs and his Whirlwind involvement with the Hope Community and Market Garden. He shares his experience and his own hopes for the future of the site and surrounding community.
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