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Published: Sunday, 5/10/2009

Kaptur cultivates Victory Garden for donations to Toledo area food banks

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rep. Marcy Kaptur visits with master gardener Rob McCreary, left, of Toledo and Mike Szuberla of the Toledo Grows nonprofit group during the plant sale at Toledo Botanical Garden. Rep. Marcy Kaptur visits with master gardener Rob McCreary, left, of Toledo and Mike Szuberla of the Toledo Grows nonprofit group during the plant sale at Toledo Botanical Garden.
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U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) took advantage of the annual spring plant sale at Toledo Botanical Garden yesterday to urge citizens to support a pet project of hers: the planting of Victory Gardens.

Miss Kaptur wants people to raise produce in their yards and donate what they don't eat to area food banks.

Her goal, she said, is 1,000 Victory Gardens. Victory Gardens, also called war gardens, were planted during World Wars I and II as a patriotic duty to bolster the country's food supply.

"Forty percent of the food eaten in World War II was provided by Victory Gardens," Miss Kaptur said. "Today, the enemy is hunger."

Teeny Guynes, left, of Sylvania Township discusses a hybrid rose with Cheryl Menard, a member of the Toledo Rose Society. The plant sale raises money for botanical garden operations. Teeny Guynes, left, of Sylvania Township discusses a hybrid rose with Cheryl Menard, a member of the Toledo Rose Society. The plant sale raises money for botanical garden operations.
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Miss Kaptur said Ohio ranked third in the country as a "food-challenged" state, adding that nearly a quarter of the state's children go to bed without having had enough to eat.

"My challenge today is, 'Will you plant a garden and will you donate what you don't eat to your food banks?'•" she said.

Mike Szuberla of Toledo Grows, a nonprofit that promotes community gardens, seconded Miss Kaptur's enthusiasm.

"We anticipate we are going to have more than 80 gardens this year," he said. "People can come here [to the botanical garden] and get seeds this weekend. We have a full complement of vegetables."

Also speaking was Debbie Vas, executive director of the Toledo Seagate Foodbank. She said her organization is experiencing an increase in requests from agencies seeking food assistance.

Dennis Jacob shops for New England Aster, a native plant, for his new house in Ottawa Lake, Mich. Dennis Jacob shops for New England Aster, a native plant, for his new house in Ottawa Lake, Mich.
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To register in the Victory in the Garden program, visit victoryinthegarden.osu.edu or call the Ohio State University Extension at the botanical garden at 419-578-6783.

At the plant sale, horticulture was the order of the day, as overcast skies and chilly wind gusts failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the gardeners, who stocked up on plants, most of which were grown in the botanical garden's own greenhouses.

Helen Jones of Sylvania Township described herself as a typical gardening hobbyist. She said she was shopping for low-maintenance shade plants such as hosta to put around the raised beds in her yard.

Audrey Laux, left, of Sylvania, and Sylvie Knick of North Royalton, Ohio, center, visit the botanical garden plant sale with their mom, Regine Knick of Lima, to prepare to celebrate Mother s Day Audrey Laux, left, of Sylvania, and Sylvie Knick of North Royalton, Ohio, center, visit the botanical garden plant sale with their mom, Regine Knick of Lima, to prepare to celebrate Mother s Day
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"There's a nice selection," she said. "And it's for a good cause."

That cause is raising money for the botanical garden's operation.

Philip Page, the director of operations and horticulture, said he expected the sale, which ends tomorrow, to clear about $25,000. Mr. Page said the sale probably would be held even if it were only break-even.

"It's such a benefit for the gardening community to be able to come out here and get top quality at the best time of the year," he said.

Janet Schroeder, the botanical garden's executive director, said a head count of visitors at the sale was not kept, but would number in the thousands.

"A lot of people leave with their plants and then return," she explained.

The botanical garden's three international interns - from Brazil, Indonesia, and Ukraine - were kept busy during the plant sale, and said they were enjoying the event. They were doing a little bit of everything, from watering, to selling, to organizing plants.

"It's a good sale," said Teuku Muniwar, from Indonesia. "There are so many communities here. You meet lots of people."

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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