Wednesday, December 2, 2009

University of Toledo student press: 'Toledo grows through gardening'

The chickens clucked in their pen and turkeys wandered in and out of the greenhouse as Michael Szuberla and several Toledo youth took a break from the garden and kick around a hacky sac on a windy November afternoon at the Oneida Street Garden.

Click to read the full article...

And here is an editorial in the same edition about Toledo GROWs...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Winterizing and In-bed Composting at Glenwood Garden

Left: Before
A plot was filled with food waste and leaves, then covered with the soil originally in the bed. Traeshon is seeding winter rye, and the soil is mounded to his knees.
Right: After
One month later, the food waste has decomposed, leaving the bed only slightly higher than ground level. Winter rye has sprouted and the plot is winterized!

Toledo GROWs on the rise.

Toledo GROW's is becoming a prominent piece to the puzzle in Ohio. The non-profit organization is beginning to branch out through teens raising chickens, and other wildlife. Also Toledo GROWs is reaching the community through  urban teens with aspirations to succeed, another reason why Toledo GROWs is on a hot streak.

Here's a recent Blade article on our chickens and turkeys at the Oneida St. greenhouse in North Toledo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bowling Green Community Gardening Project

It's great to see the new blog from the community gardening effort in Bowling Green. We're eager to find out more about the people and places and ideas brewing there!

Our cities stand on a track record of collaboration. Here's to building greater momentum toward strengthening local food systems, reconnecting with neighbors and taking ownership of where we live.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Video of Wayne Roberts presentation

Here is the documentation (hosted by WGTE's Knowledge Stream) of Wayne Roberts's recent presentation on green economics and sustainable agriculture at the downtown library.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Local chickens the star of tonight's Seed Swap benefit party!

Manos Greek Restaurant is hosting a benefit party for the 2010 Seed Swap from 5pm to 9pm.

Our local organic free range chickens raised at the Oneida Greenhouse will be the centerpiece for tonight's noshing! Come find out what happy chickens taste like!

Tickets are $15 at the door and benefit our nationally acclaimed event.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MSU colleague presentation on sustainable agriculture

One of the contacts we met at this summer's tour of Detroit's community gardens was MSU's youth and community food activist Anne Scott. Anne works for the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Agriculture. Above is the Mott Group's director, Michael Hamm's, recent presentation at the Green Town Conference @ Grand Valley State University this past July on sustainable agriculture.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Salsa benefit tonight @ Wesley's!

Wesley's Bar & Grill is hosting a salsa-themed benefit for Toledo GROWs' job training program.

Local chefs including Churchill's Bill Kohlhoff, Toledo Museum of Art's Erika Rapp, The Original Sub Shop's Jackie David and Toledo GROWs staff and job training youth will provide a wide array of salsa delights culled from community garden produce!

The event is from 5pm to 8pm.

$10 minimum donation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wayne Roberts presentation at downtown library

Monday, September 28th 6:30pm
McMaster Center, Downtown Library

Dr. Wayne Roberts has worked tirelessly to demonstrate that what is good for the environment is also good for jobs and ordinary people. "It's a vision that integrates economic, social and environmental well-being," he says.
Roberts is author of seven books (most recently the No Nonsense Guide to World Food) and the director of the Toronto Food Policy Council. Roberts also founded the Coalition for a Green Economy.

The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) is a citizen body of 30 food activists and experts that is widely recognized for its innovative approach to food security. As a leading member of the City of Toronto's Environmental Task Force, Roberts helped develop a number of official plans for the city, including the Environmental Plan and Food Charter, adopted by Toronto City Council in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Many ideas and projects of the TFPC are featured in Roberts' book The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food (2008). In April, 2009, the TFPC under Roberts' leadership received the Bob Hunter Environmental Achievement Award, given to a City of Toronto agency with a record of outstanding leadership, for its efforts to make food an action item on the environmental agenda.

Since 1989, Roberts has written a weekly column for Toronto’s NOW Magazine, generally on themes that link social justice, public health and green economics.

In 2002, he received the Canadian Environment Award for his contributions to sustainable living. NOW Magazine named Roberts one of Toronto’s leading visionaries of the past 20 years. In 2008, he received the Canadian Eco-Hero Award presented by Planet in Focus.

Roberts earned a Ph.D. in social and economic history from the University of Toronto in 1978, and has written seven books, including Get A Life! (1995), a manual on green economics, and Real Food For A Change (1999), which promotes a food system based on the four ingredients of health, joy, justice and nature.

Roberts chaired the influential and Toronto-based Coalition for a Green Economy for 15 years. He has also served on the Board of the U.S.-based Community Food Security Coalition and Food Secure Canada. He is on the board of Green Enterprise Toronto, an organization of local eco-businesses that's associated with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies across North America. He has been invited to speak around the world on strategies that combine food security, community empowerment, environmental improvement, social equity and job creation.

fyi: UT Documentary Film Series on corporatocracy

The University of Toledo is showing a series of documentaries that look at the implications of corporate leadership through November 6. Screenings are free with a suggested donation of at least $3.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Sprouting Change"

The Toledo City Paper just ran an article on a national award won by the CITE program and the Oneida St. Greenhouse. CITE (Community Integration, Training and Employment) isthe job training wing of Toledo GROWs. . .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Toledo GROWs fundraiser @ Ottawa Tavern!

GROWs staff members and volunteers will be raising money by guest bartending this Saturday, August 22nd from 6pm to 9pm at the respectably hip Ottawa Tavern (map).

This should be a great way to have some fun, be around others interested in advocating for a green agenda in Toledo, and raise money for community gardening and livestock in our neighborhoods.

Special thanks to Clayton and Adam and the rest of the folks at the OT for throwing the Raising the Bar fundraisers!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Toledo GROWs Garden Tour 2009!

View Toledo GROWs Garden Tour 2009 in a larger map

Tour starting point & time: Thursday, August 6, 5:45pm @ Glenwood Garden.

Come see and hear about how community gardens are transforming our city. Take a tour of community gardens, greenhouses, art installations and chicken coops associated with community centers, neighborhood groups, churches and senior housing sites.

We have a limited # of vans to transport people. PLEASE RSVP at 419-536-5566 if you WANT TO HAVE SPACE ON A VAN!!! People are also welcome to grab a map and bike or drive to the various sites.

Motown to Growtown!

Toledo GROWs is taking a trip to Detroit for the 12th annual Detroit Agricultural Network Tour!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

North End plant distribution, Sat May 16, 10am

North End plant distribution
Saturday, May 16, 10am to 1pm @ Oneida Greenhouse (see map above)

Plants will be handed out to all community gardeners in the North End and surrounding areas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bicycles & Green Drinks

Toledo Bicycle Extravaganza

Green Drinks Toledo is hosting a (cricital) mass bicyclists' rendez-vous at the Farmer's Market Saturday, May 16 at 10am as part of Bike Week '09.

The flier and bike map they passed around town are available online.

Around noon there will be a group ride to Manhattan's for a lunch buffet, live music and green networking.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Plant Sale!

TBG Plant Sale

Toledo Botanical Garden's festival of gardening, the Spring Plant Sale, is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

Select from over 330 varities of plants and try to spot the TBG horticulturalists's top 10.

Be sure to stop by the Toledo GROWs tent for your vegetable wish list. The purple cherokee tomatoes are all the rage!

GROWs manager honored as a Toledoan of the Year

The innovative work of Toledo GROWs has yielded a Toledoan of the Year. Mike Szuberla was honored at an award ceremony earlier this week along with four others from the community. Below is the Blade article.....

5 are Toledoans of Year for efforts in community
Awards recognize individual efforts

Five people - including an 8-year-old girl who collects socks for the homeless - were honored with Toledoan of the Year Awards last night at a reception in the Erie Street Market.
The honorees were selected by a panel of judges in five categories: mentor, humanitarian, innovation, community investment, and leadership.

Before the presentations, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner noted the bad economic conditions and urged the audience of 100 to "do absolutely the best job we will ever do in our lives in uplifting and inspiring others."
The mayor said the recent city layoffs, including 75 police officers, were bad, but "not the end of the Earth."

Mr. Finkbeiner said challenges can make people stronger.
Of the proceedings last night, he said: "We honor individuals who quietly and humbly work to improve this community.

The honorees were:

•Brittany Gessner, the owner and head coach of the Cheerworks Sparks Gym, who won the mentor award. She dedicates much time to her cheerleading and dance teams, one of which includes special-needs athletes, who travel with the other squads.

•Hannah Turner, who started Hannah's Socks, a nonprofit organization that provides warm clothing to the homeless in northwest Ohio. She won the humanitarian award. At 8, Hannah is the youngest winner.
She has collected more than 50,000 socks and spends her Saturday mornings distributing socks to those in need.

•Mike Szuberla of Toledo Grows, the outreach program of the Toledo Botanical Garden, who won the innovation award. He is a regional and state leader in community gardens. Toledo Grows serves and supports 50 community gardens with organizational resources and technical assistance.

•Paul Ormond, chief executive officer of HCR ManorCare Inc., who won the business community investment award. His Toledo-based company continues to grow and will add 85 jobs with the expansion of its business.

•Greg Braylock, coordinator of Youth United Way, a program of the United Way of Greater Toledo, who won the leadership award. He teaches teens how to become leaders and encourages them to perform to the best of their capacity.

Presenting the awards were Ron Royhab, Vice President-Executive Editor of The Blade, and Laura Emerson, news anchor at WUPW Channel 36. The event was sponsored by The Blade, the city of Toledo, and Fox Toledo.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"The Kids are Alright"

The following is an editorial written by Toledo GROWs manager Michael Szuberla and published on the Toledo Free Press Blog, January 9, 2009. It serves as a summation of our work during 2008 and a contribution to the conversation in Toledo about handling these tough economic times.

The Kids are Alright. [misspelling and title thanks to the Who]
by Michael Szuberla

In ecology, we learn that a natural eco-system produces no pollution. Each element nourishes another and in the process nothing is wasted. In human settlements, however, waste is endemic. Pollution is a misplaced resource. Perhaps, human society mimics ecology — on a street corner, youth with nothing to do frequently pose a problem. But given the right opportunities, mentoring and resources these same youth will do positive things that will amaze you. I am reminded of this everyday I go to work.

It might take a child to raise a village.

In the past twelve months I have had the privilege of working with over one hundred youth through a partnership between Toledo GROWs and the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Division’s CITE program. With support from AmeriCorps and the United Way; CITE youth are paid to revitalize their neighborhoods through community gardens, in the process they learn marketable job skills.

Last year our youth were incredibly productive. I can write without hesitation that these young people are some of the most inspiring and intelligent people that I have worked with in my two decades of social service. Consider their accomplishments:

They built two greenhouses and four chicken coops. They grew tens of thousands of plants (which were distributed for free throughout Toledo). And they led the return of small livestock to Toledo.

In creating eight new community gardens they moved mountains of woodchips, compost and manure. They also supported over sixty existing community gardens.

They dug trenches and ran irrigation lines to provide easy access to water for senior citizen gardeners.

They built picnic tables, outdoor chessboards, kiosks, and tool sheds for several community gardens.

Following the installation of one new community garden in south Toledo - we praised our youth with words to this effect: “this morning when you woke up there were sixty-two community gardens in Toledo. Now, thanks to your good work, Toledo has sixty-three community gardens. Imagine if everyone in Toledo applied their skills towards the transformation of their City as you did.”

Toledo GROWs/CITE are not the only youth doing good work in the City. The Young Artists At Work (YAAW) program of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo completed an impressive array of art works last summer - you can check some of them out in the underground parking lot of the downtown main library or at the Ten Eyck community garden at Jefferson and 20th. The Community HeARTbeats program has similarly done inspired work throughout the City.

Despite the cool achievements by youth in 2008, I worry that we’re heading for a long hot summer in 2009. Closed City pools, steep cuts in the City’s Division of Recreation, and major staff reductions at the City’s Youth Commission may leave many youth feeling abandoned in the present while a steadily deteriorating economy might leave many youth feeling that their future will be a raw deal. Let’s be precise - for youth, in the immediate future our local economy is likely to get worse (not better). If Toledo is going to improve, it will have to engage and empower youth to transform it lot by lot. Youth, who have dismal prospects in the current economy, have tremendous potential to create social capital in neighborhoods and communities. To do so, we have to change the way we view our youth.

Toledo GROWs, CITE, YAAW and the Community HeARTbeats and other youth programs embody a new wave of youth-led community rebuilding. Youth are the most energetic, dynamic and creative members of our society - it would be a tragic error to not provide them with the tools to revitalize their City. I envision a Toledo renewed with the fresh energy of its youth supported by their elders. Such an effort will involve tree-planting, creation of community gardens/urban farms, widespread art projects, bioremediation, et cetera. Furthermore, our schools should utilize project-based learning and service learning to provide a solid foundation of experience to support abstract knowledge. I suspect that there is no more powerful learning experience than that of solving REAL problems in one’s own community.

Engaging our youth in a substantive way will not be easy (or cheap). Such a task will require coordinated effort among foundations, individuals, faith-based organizations, schools, and governmental bodies.

Fundamental to a youth-centered transformation is a shift away from thinking that views youth as clients or problems. Placing youth in a position to help rejuvenate their neighborhoods not only gives them a feeling of power; it connects them to their community. Daily, I witness youth experiencing a sense of power from learning to use tools to rebuild their neighborhoods — when this sort of power is absent some will turn to violence for a sense of empowerment.

Just after we completed our second greenhouse, a visitor observed some of the proud joyous youth that had built it and remarked “so that’s all takes: a challenging project, some tools and guidance. It’s kind of like the barn-raising of years past.”

Another new reality that Toledoans must grasp is that our tax base is no longer adequate to provide the comprehensive services that we have been accustomed to for many years. Toledo, like most cities in our region, will rise or fall with the efforts of its citizens. The new role of governments in post-industrial cities such as ours is to aid and augment the grass-roots efforts of citizens seeking to improve their communities. The shrinking tax-base does not have to spell the deterioration of the City - it does, however, call for changes in approaches. Take community gardens — in the USA it has been found that the average cost of creating a community garden is just a tenth that of creating a park of the same size. Such activities are extremely cheap compared to existing youth services. Tools, seeds, sunshine, supplies, mentors, and incentives can yield splendid results. Unlike client-based services, the infrastructure is minimal (and is often created by the participants). Such an activity is far cheaper than anything that needs to be housed, heated, air-conditioned, et cetera.

Such efforts won’t be free. But the cost of inaction (or maintenance of the status quo) will be staggering by comparison. Keep in mind that it costs $80000/year to incarcerate one juvenile. Investing in youth to build their stewardship and civic values will pay excellent dividends.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oneida Greenhouse Open House

Oneida Greenhouse Open House, Thursday, March 26, 1pm & 6pm

The greenhouse is located at the corner of Oneida St. & Locust St. on the northern edge of downtown Toledo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

EarthWatch Ohio

So Dr. Bob stopped by the greenhouse this afternoon for his first visit and in true fashion came brandishing an assortment of information products to share. . .

Among them was EarthWatch Ohio, a bi-monthly newspaper available at most Toledo Library branches and a part of the ever expanding Toledo GROWs bibliography.

In addition to lots of good stuff, the recent issue features an article on the growing momentum of urban chickens and bees, and mentions Toledo as a city that allows residents to have chickens in their yards:

"Cleveland Abuzz Over Chicken and Bee Legislation"
By: Morgan Taggart, Ohio State University Extension

There is an agrarian revolution coming to roost in Cleveland that is part of a comprehensive effort to increase access to fresh, healthy, affordable food in Cuyahoga County and to leverage local dollars to support a growing regional food economy. One aspect of this movement focuses on revising city zoning regulations on keeping farm animals and bees on private property. City council is now reviewing its policy on raising lifestock including chickens, bees and rabbits. Approximately 10 contiguous lots or one acre are now required to accommodate the 100-foot setbacks from nearby residences and the street specified in the city’s zoning code.

[read the rest of the article]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Marion Nestle @ the University of Toledo March 17th

Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, What to Eat and Pet Food Politics, will be speaking at the University of Toledo on Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30pm in Room 2100 of the Memorial Field House, just west of the student union.

Dr. Nestle's presentation is a part of the Women & Sustainable Agricuture series sponsored by the departments of Environmental Sciences and Women's and Gender Studies.

Here is a UT News article on the event.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blade article: "Food scrap recycling set to start in Huron"

published 09 Mar 09
HURON, Ohio - Starting April 1, residents will become Ohio's first to get curbside recycling for food scraps and biodegradable products such as coffee grounds, egg shells, and paper plates.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hopes that Huron - a Lake Erie shoreline community of 8,000 people east of Sandusky - will set a big example for others.

"We could redefine the state's image," Huron City Manager Andy White said.

Joe Goicochea, an environmental specialist in the agency's solid and infectious waste division, concedes it's an "unconventional type of recycling."

[read the rest of the article]