Spring will be greener than ever this year at Goodwill Columbus.
The 23 residents of the nonprofit's local headquarters on Edgehill Road south of Fifth Avenue will, for the second year, be planting a garden in what used to be a gravel pit. The Sprouting Goodwill Garden, funded through a grant of more than $3,200 from the city of Columbus at the Columbus Foundation, had its first growing season last year.
“The onsite residents have been wanting to do something like this for a very long time because they have a huge commitment to healthy eating,” says Goodwill Columbus Development Manager Leslie Turis, who wrote the grant.
The residents, who are all developmentally disabled, worked with volunteers from Grace Central Presbyterian Church to build garden beds and plant and tend the garden starting last May. Located on the grounds of Goodwill Columbus, the garden has two or three long beds and four or five smaller raised beds, as well as a vertical flower and herb garden.
“They were very excited,” Turis says of the residents. “They definitely liked working with the volunteers and being able to get out there and do something hands-on and see the results of their efforts.”
When the weather didn’t cooperate, the residents spent time indoors learning about gardening.
“They bought a kit and incubated insects that would be helpful to the garden,” Turis says. “The staff … really made the most of that experience for the residents.”
A wheelchair accessible ramp – plus the raised beds – makes the garden available to all residents, says Media Communications Manager Erica Charles. And the addition of a mural on the side of the building, in conjunction with the garden, has brightened up the area considerably.
“It’s kind of industrial over here still. We’re just doing whatever we can to make it more green and resident-centered,” Turis says.
Both Turis and Charles say the garden has been a success.
“It was really great. (Residents) were able to use a lot of the products from the garden to eat. They’d pick it, bring it up and wash it,” Charles says. Last year’s produce included strawberries and mint.
At the end of the growing season, residents composted what had to be removed and began preparing for the next year’s crop.
“It’s something they’re committed to doing every year,” Turis says. “We’re looking at extra space, or maybe containers,” for the coming year.
Planting will likely begin in April, Turis says.
“We’re really thankful for all the support from the city of Columbus and the volunteers,” she says.
Lisa Aurand is editor of Tri-Village Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.