The Manos Community Garden started with a small wish by downtown businessman Manos Paschalis, who wanted a neighborhood farmers market in UpTown, just like the one in nearby downtown Toledo.
That idea changed into one for a community garden, now a colorful site -- home to art, plants, and birds -- at Jackson Boulevard and 14th St.
"I wanted growth for UpTown. ...We have so much unused space, so hopefully people will start making use of the empty spaces like this," said Mr. Paschalis, who owns the property where the garden sits.
Since its initial planning three years ago, the community garden has benefited from the collaboration of many community partners, such as Toledo GROWs, the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and local artists. These groups worked closely to design the garden.
"To make a successful community garden, we brought in a number of different components," said Alison Wood-Osmun of Toledo GROWs, who oversaw the project.
The main component is the garden, which gives neighborhood residents a place to grow fruits and vegetables. "My restaurant uses the garden to grow different vegetables and herbs, such as tomatoes and eggplants," said Mr. Paschalis, who owns Manos Greek Restaurant on Adams Street.
In addition to being a community garden, the space provides food, water, and shelter for birds. Thanks to the efforts by the county's Wild Connections Group and Helen Palochko, who was contracted to assist with the bird project, the garden earned a national wildlife habitat certification. It serves as an urban bird study site for Cornell's Lab of Ornithology and as an outdoor classroom for the Toledo School for the Arts.
During the spring, organizers hosted a Garden Party for the Birds. Several guests, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo); Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County commissioners, and Karen Ranney-Wolkins, executive director of Toledo Botanical Garden, joined the party.
"We wanted to give the neighborhood a chance to observe wildlife without the need to travel for a long distance," Ms. Palochko said.
But the garden offers more than nature and wildlife. Toledo GROWs rallied local artists to create 200-foot murals. Each artist had his own theme but the common goal was to promote nature and community.
"I wanted the community to be inspired," said Courtney Billian from Toledo GROWs. Ms. Billian, one of the seven muralists, oversaw the project.
Toledo GROWs started a fund-raising campaign to build a hard-packed limestone surface for pathways by the end of this year.
"We hope to raise enough money to create pathways that would provide accessibility to disabled members in the community and allow everyone to enjoy the garden," Ms. Wood-Osmun said.
Thanks to interest from the community, the garden continues to grow every year, organizers said. "It has definitely met my expectation," Mr. Paschalis said.
Julie Champa, UpTown Association executive director, said, "The garden plays a significant role of the beautification of the neighborhood."
The garden will provide space for the SoundTrek concert in UpTown, organized by the Toledo Arts Commission, July 20. Visit http://www.acgt.org for more information.
Contact Liyan Chen at: email@example.com or 419-724-6065.41.65781 -83.54202
Agencies, volunteers join to plant crops, paint murals in central-city space.