CINCINNATI — Building something from nothing, The Cincinnati Zoo, Rockdale Academy and other local organizations turned a flat patch of land in Avondale into a lush garden, all the while giving students and the community a chance to grow and bloom.
A year ago, the organizations came together to create the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden — an oasis just steps away from the city.
16-year-old Damien Lee, along with other teens in the community, help work throughout the garden with Groundworks and other Cincinnati Zoo staff.
"I've been living in Avondale for a while, and it's things like this that makes this neighborhood much better," Lee said.
Lee used to be a fan of the indoors — and not so much a fan of bees. But now, his relationship with the outdoors and bees has blossomed.
"My relationship with these have definitely got way better," Lee said. "Bees are pollinators and they just go from flower to flower, plant to plant hoping to find some pollen and drop some off so things can grow."
Jerome Stanger, a horticulturist with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical garden that helped build the garden, believes it's more than just something pretty to look at. Stanger believes the garden leaves an imprint on those that visit and work at it — even those that eat the broccoli grown from it.
"If they don't understand it now, they are going to have these memories with them as they move on in the world," Stanger said.
A life-changing opportunity, the garden continues to grow and provide lots for those in the community.
"This is something I want to do," Lee said. "This is a chance I can bring change to the world even if it's just like making it more beautiful."