Last night was the Open House for the grand re-opening of the Esperanza Garden on W25th St here in Cleveland. After a three year hiatus, the Cleveland Botanical Garden‘s urban garden has reopened to once again grow the ingredients for the yummy salsa that is sold in the Botanical Garden’s gift shop.
The Open House was a fun affair. I was greeted at the entrance by Roshel P. and Edmanuel N. (pictured right), two of the local teenagers who are part of Green Corps and help to maintain the Esperanza Garden. They explained that they had been hard at work getting the garden ready for the Open House and that so far they had planted tomatoes, peppers, herbs and several other vegetables in the garden.
Later, Anthony V., also of Green Corps, insisted that I try the hot salsa. “Most people think that the hot salsa is hotter, but I don’t think so. I think the hot has more flavor,” he explained. He was right. It does have more flavor.
Later, I wandered a few blocks down and visited CityFresh. This is an effort of the Ohio State University Extension office to bring fresh produce and nutritional facts to the more urban areas of Cleveland. CityFresh is open every Thursday from 3-7PM through October 5th at the corner of 25th & Clark and also at Lorain & 48th. Minerva Santana will be on hand passing out free nutritional information. If you visit her 10 times this year, you get $20 in free food.
Vegetables can also be pre-purchased from CityFresh in the form of Market Share Bags. Each share costs $20 and each bag will include a freshly picked assortment of in-season, locally grown food. Discounts are available for low-income patrons and they also take the Ohio Direction card. To pre-purchase Market Share bags, call 216-429-8238 or 440-774-2906 or just stop by one of the CityFresh stands.
Whew… That’s the reporting part.
It’s great that they have opened the Esperanza Garden again. I wish that every neighborhood could have a city garden. Concrete is just not what humans were meant to live on and I think that there is a very primal part of us that needs something greener than a half dead city tree.
Unfortunately, most of the world does not believe that. But gardens have a way of creeping out of their boundaries and they can make fundamental changes to a surrounding area, even if it is only through a few escaped cleome and hollyhocks trying to have a big city adventure.
CityFresh is a noble effort, but one I think that will make very little headway. I know who will show up for that fresh food. It will be the snappy, hip sort of urbanites who are trying to turn the neighborhoods into somewhere they can raise their kids and where the current residents can’t afford to live. I know, I know, that’s not what they mean to happen, but that is what will happen. Neighborhoods in transition work so hard to be cool that they frequently forget that part of the neighborhood is not cool, it’s dirt poor, in more ways than one.
I wish the best of luck to both efforts. I hope that the Esperanza Garden can grow and that CityFresh can make a change. Even small changes make a difference in this great big pond we call life.