YMCA seeks input on community garden

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by Eric Marotta | Editor
Macedonia — The Nordonia Hills YMCA may build a community garden in the next three years, but only if enough people say they are interested.
Lisa Gillota, branch executive director, said she is presently forming a committee to develop a three-year strategic plan for the branch. Part of that plan could include a community garden if enough people show interest in a survey posted online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/YMCACommunityGarden.
“They’re not expensive to maintain, but they’re expensive to start up,” Gillota said.
She said a preliminary estimate of the startup cost is about $30,000.
“We’re hoping to find some community funding partners, but I can’t even approach funding partners unless the community says it’s worth your while,” she said. “We would invest, but we don’t know how much.”
Gillota said the YMCA community garden would be a place where residents would lease plots to grow plants, which would generally be garden vegetables. The garden would be tilled twice per year by the YMCA and would have water available and a fence to keep out deer and other animals.
The YMCA branch is on 30 acres at the northeast corner of Shepard Road and Route 82. The garden would be built on the northern part of the property. To create the garden, the branch would have to build the fence and extend a water line from Shepard Road, Gillota said.
She said participants would pay a fee per plot, which would cover the cost of maintenance, such as tilling. Details such as plot size and fees remain to be worked out.
Gillota said she decided to see if a garden would be feasible when looking at things that should be considered in the YMCA branch’s next three-year strategic plan, which should be completed early next year.
The reasons? Other than one residents maintain in Greenwood Village, Gillota there isn’t a community garden in Nordonia Hills. Also, Gillota said gardening is a healthy, outdoor activity that provides fresh, healthy food for gardeners and their families.
“And I think it creates a sense of community,” she said. “Those are all traditional YMCA values.”
There are at least three other community gardens near the Nordonia Hills branch, Gillota said.
“Twinsburg has a very large-scale community garden open to anyone. It’s 4 acres, with 230 plots,” she said.
She said Aurora’s 3-year-old community garden is exclusive for residents. It is a bit smaller than Twinsburg’s with 200 plots, with plans for an all-organic expansion.
Gillota said Nordonia Hills communities and the school district have all agreed to advertise the survey.
As of Nov. 26, 49 people had taken the survey.
“If only 49 people are interested, this project will be dropped,” she said.
Gillota requests surveys be completed by Nov. 30, but said she will accept results until Dec. 7.
 “If this is something the community is not interested in, I want to know,” she said.
E-mail: emarotta@recordpub.com
Phone: 330-541-9433

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