Price Hill community garden provides food and connections

CINCINNATI -- A vacant lot in Price Hill where dandelions and crabgrass once grew now motivates a community to get its hands dirty.

The half-acre lot off Purcell Avenue is the busiest it's been in years, thanks to Santa Maria Community Services, a women's group that grows fresh vegetables and helps women in the process.

"It's a space for Spanish-speaking women in Price Hill to get to know one another and get to know the resources that are available," said Molly Swaidan with Santa Maria Community Services. "It's a place for all the women to come together, share their experiences, lean on one another, learn from one another."

The women's group was the first group of volunteers in the garden, according to Joshua Jones of Turner Farm. Other volunteers soon followed.

"Before, when I was working by myself, people would stop by and wonder what was going on, but nobody would come in," Jones said. "They thought it was just what I was doing. But when they saw the women's group come in, they saw their community members work in the garden, and that was an invitation to work in the garden."

When the fruit and vegetables ripen, the families will take home more than the social connection.

"They also come and harvest the food and take it home for themselves and their neighbors," Jones said. 

He said he hopes it will inspire other neighbors throughout the city.

"It's about getting food security to what we would call 'at risk' neighborhoods and 'at risk' populations," Jones said.

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