Our City in a Garden

Growing Produce, Harvesting Rewards

This paper presents a model of an urban, Toledo-based system to produce, prepare, process, preserve and distribute healthy and wholesome food products within our community, accomplishing these ends in a manner that stresses environmental sustainability.

The goal of this effort: Meet the increasingly acute need for nutritious foods in our cities, and in doing so, promote local production by local citizens. It is a shocking fact that only two percent of the food eaten in Ohio is grown in Ohio. In areas where family income is limited and where food deserts characterize the food system, diets have become increasingly unhealthy. Our scarce food dollars are being siphoned away from local communities - all of which needs to be fixed.

By taking back control of food production, processing and distribution, food will become an engine for creating economic benefits within the community. Most importantly it can create jobs for urban residents.

Toledo will become a model for other communities seeking to create urban-food production systems that improve the public health with ventures that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

To learn more about the vision, progress and future of the Our City in a Garden initiative, please view and download:

Our City in a Garden: Growing Produce, Harvesting Rewards




The Northwest Ohio Gleaning Project

Join Us: Volunteer!

Gleaning volunteers are students, senior citizens, businesspeople, stay-at-home parents and many other individuals who visit area farm fields and orchards to collect excess produce that is distributed by the Toledo Seagate Food Bank to area agencies, food pantries and soup kitchens who feed the hungry throughout northwest Ohio.

If you have a desire to work outside and are interested in helping feed the hungry, this is the project for you! No prior experience in gardening or farming is necessary.

For more information on how to volunteer, please view and download:

Northwest Ohio's Gleaning Project




Community Gardens

Community gardens are safe, beautiful outdoor spaces on public or private lands, where neighbors meet to grow and care for vegetables, flowers and native plant species. The gardeners take initiative and responsibility for organizing, maintaining and managing the garden area. This participation builds skills and creates positive community development that is widely accessible to a diverse range of people. Partnerships between Toledo GROWs, the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, the City of Toledo, and community organizations have already created additional community benefits, through fostering youth employment, volunteer activity, and the restoration of natural areas.

Community gardens have been shown to revitalize areas from neglected spaces characterized by vandalism and illegal activities into places for community programs and celebration. This transformation takes place when community gardens engage sustained community involvement by youth, families, seniors, intergenerational, ethnic and multicultural groups. There are measurable outcomes that document the success of this collaborative effort. At a number of community gardens, for example, litter, vandalism, documented crime; graffiti and negative park use have declined considerably. Community gardens increase neighborhood engagement. Community groups have become increasingly influential as advocates for positive land use.

Benefits of Community Gardens

Community gardens enhance the quality of life in many ways by…

Toledo GROWs

Toledo GROWs is the community gardening outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden. Toledo GROWs is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to the continued growth and success of community-based gardens in the city of Toledo and throughout NW Ohio.

As a statewide and regional leader in community gardening, Toledo GROWs offers organizational resources and technical assistance to support the development of sustainable garden projects that serve people of diverse ages and abilities. Currently, Toledo GROWs serves close to fifty community gardens. Throughout the seasons, Toledo GROWs works with community garden organizers to ensure that they have everything necessary to create a vibrant community garden.

Toledo GROWs is cultivating a dynamic community gardening movement across northwest Ohio. Working in partnership with a wide variety of community groups, the program draws on the collective heritage of gifts from Toledo's distinct cultures. Community gardens benefit everyone by creating safe and healthy recreational activity within our neighborhoods.

To support these efforts that build healthier communities, please consider joining in our work as a contributor, partner, or volunteer. For more information, please call 419-936-2975 or email tgrows2@toledogarden.org.

Community Garden Listing

There are currently nearly fifty community gardens throughout northwest Ohio. Here is just a sampling of these unique urban havens for horticulture:

The Mercy Garden at Ten Eyck is almost ten years old now.This garden began as a small patch of land and has grown larger each year. In addition to the residents of Ten Eyck Towers, gardeners come from the Youth Treatment Center, Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime, and the downtown area in general. Youth from the CITE program established pathways and planted the perennial border that you will notice blooming along Jefferson for years to come.

Museum Place gardeners cleared a jungle of weeds and debris to create this charming garden that serves as a magnificent social space and outdoor pantry. The neighborhood block watch group is very active in this garden.

A partnership of Glenwood Lutheran, Firm Foundations, and Boys & Girls Club has started a new garden. The youth have done a fabulous job and have enjoyed harvesting a wide array of fruits and vegetables. The young gardeners have planted fruit trees and perennials and next year neighborhood residents will be lending a green thumb as well.

Ms. Kidd's Garden is named after Ms. Kidd herself, a 92 year young gardening enthusiast. She has helped volunteers with advice and by donating water. Toledo Grows helps home gardeners like Ms. Kidd with seeds, plants and support through a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The Frederick Douglass Center community garden is tended by children from the Doug three days a week in order to create a beautiful green space. Neighbors have become involved and many butterflies and birds now appear to enjoy the blooms. The gardeners' achievements are especially impressive because the soilat the site was so compacted that the Grows contract tiller refused to use his tractor on it!

Founded in 2002, the Monroe Street United Methodist Garden serves children from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Members of the Latino community express their art and culture through the Sofia Quintero Center community garden. Filled with brilliant colors and artworks, the garden has brightened up the intersection of Broadway and Crittenden for nearly a decade.

Possibly northwest Ohio's best school garden, the Washington Junior High community garden is a model for handicap accessibility and student engagement in volunteerism. The garden impacts students through a variety of classes and features a butterfly garden, with much effort by dedicated teacher Scott Michaelis.




Hot off the press!

A tool to aid the fight against hunger in Northwest Ohio

Please view and download:

How to Help the Hungry in Northwest Ohio

Written and produced by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), this directory helps growers find local soup kitchens, pantries and volunteers that can accommodate their donation.

In addition to pickup contact information, the directory provides information on donation of time, student involvement, the Grow A Row Project, the Good Samaritan Act, donated food safety, and taxable donations.




What is Our City in a Garden?

Our City in a Garden is an urban, Toledo-based system to produce, prepare, distribute, process, and preserve healthy food products in the community, and to accomplish these ends in a manner that stresses environmental sustainability.

The overall goal of this effort is to meet the increasingly acute need for food among the populations in the urban environment, and to meet these needs by providing incentives for local production by local citizens. It is a shocking fact in our community that only 2% of the food eaten in Ohio is grown in Ohio. In areas where family income is limited and where “food deserts” characterize the food situation, diets have become increasingly unhealthy, and scarce food dollars are being siphoned away from local communities.

It is intended that this effort will be a starting point for a planning group to begin the preparation of a detailed design that will include the participants, the facilities, and the budget for the system. The end result will be the design of a system that is “transformational,” and will move Toledo’s food system toward local control, and will improve the physical and economic health of the region and its citizens.

What is the purpose of the Our City in a Garden website?

Each of the community organizations committed to the Our City in a Garden initiative has a history of success stories to share. Together, they demonstrate a wide range of community service spanning food research, production, preparation, and distribution as well as systems design, health and human services, ministry and education.

This site features, in both text and photos, sections focused on the major components of the Our City in a Garden initiative. It provides a means to share with the community the scope, innovation, economic sustainability, environmental responsibility, educational activities and attention to safety which are essential to this comprehensive project. By sharing the stories – from the smallest garden plots to 50-acre urban farms, from gleaning and Grow-a-Row programs through distribution systems and agencies – it is hoped that Our City in a Garden will be a dynamic model to be replicated in any urban area.




Partner Organizations...


Our City in a Garden
5555 Airport Highway, Ste 100, Toledo, Ohio 43615-7320
419.535.6000       877.668.3472 (toll-free)
419.531.8465 (fax)
© 1995 - 2009 EISC, Inc.

A message from Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur...

''Food needs are rising for many people across our community due to economic conditions. Therefore in mid-February, with over 100 community participants, we held our first City in a Garden forum to discuss how our area could plan, organize, and begin to meet this need effectively and sustainably. We aim to explore how expanded deployment of innovative growing systems can meet rising local food needs and better nutrition, particularly in food-short areas.''

''Experimental efforts with innovative growing systems have been underway for nearly two years across our region. Most importantly, these structures can be replicated in urban areas. Thank you for the work you do every day to help our community become more humane, livable and civil.''

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
US House of Representatives, 9th District - Ohio



Urban Agriculture Resource Links...

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