PORTSMOUTH — Watch Me Grow Ohio has been in the process of building gardens and greenhouses full of vegetables free to the community in Portsmouth.
“Currently, we’re working on completing construction on our Fellowship Garden located at 1308 Waller Street in the North End of Portsmouth,” said Amanda Lewis, Co Founder of Watch Me Grow Ohio. “This project began late 2020/2021 but was delayed, and now we’re finally moving forward again.”
Lewis said construction will be completed by April 30th of this year.
“Thanks to strong partnership support from the Scioto County Commissioner’s, the City and the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation, we secured two vacant lots in the East End, where we will be constructing a small-scale commercial greenhouse, to extend our growing season year round,” said Lewis.
Funding is being collected for a greenhouse to be built on the East End of Portsmouth as well.
“If the East end greenhouse isn’t funded, then we will construct a raised garden in its place,” said Lewis. “Either way, there will be free food for the East End, same as the North End.”
Last year the greenhouses featured 41 different fresh items such as kale, cabbage, peppers, corn, squash, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, lettuce, watermelon, okra, collard greens, kolhrabi, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, etc.
Lewis said any items not harvested weekly were sold at the Farmer’s Market or bagged and given to partnering organizations like 14th Street Community Center.
“With support from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, we just launched our Food Forest & Pollinator Space project on Cause Connector (giving platform), which is to plant FREE fruit and nut trees on vacant lots, providing more access to fresh, healthy foods. In addition, we’ll be planting native Ohio species to attract local pollinators,” said Lewis.
Community residents will be able to access the gardens and food forest at any time and the greenhouses will be available during hours of operation.
“Ideally, we’ll have signs posted to show what’s available for harvesting and what’s not ready for picking yet,” said Lewis.
Lewis said their target population is those who are underserved.
“Scioto County ranks among the highest counties in Ohio for food insecurity, with 21.5% of children facing food insecurity according to a Feeding America report conducted in 2017,” said Lewis. “Our focus is on sustainable agriculture and community engagement, so it was natural for us to say “this is an unmet need. What can we do to help” and we got to it.”
Lewis said they are always looking for volunteers.
“Aside from funding, we need volunteers and awareness. The more people who are talking about these projects, the better our chances are of expanding our reach and local impact,” said Lewis. “We invite everyone to join us in addressing the needs of our community.”
For more information go to Watch Me Grow Ohio Facebook page or Instagram @watchmegrowohio
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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