May 7 2019

Eating Out(doors)

The Edible Landscape Garden provides learning opportunities — and fresh produce — for the community.

Despite a kale shortage a few years back, a lot of the popular veggie was growing in the Edible Landscape Garden (ELG) at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. Volunteer Jenny Andary recalls a park visitor offering any amount of green for the leafy green, but staff and volunteers donated the kale, as they do with most of the garden’s produce, to The Foodbank.

Indeed, MetroParks annually donates thousands of pounds of fresh food grown in the ELG to the region’s largest hunger relief network. In 2019, it aims to donate 2,200 pounds of produce from the garden, where edible plants are grown without chemicals as ornamental components of the landscape.

“Vegetables should be for everyone,” said Andary, one of the many volunteers who make the ELG possible. “It’s an important link to keep people, and especially kids, engaged in gardening.”

Andary is among a crew of volunteers who meet most Monday evenings at the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture, which this season produced extra edible plant seedlings for the ELG and the community garden plots at Wegerzyn Gardens and Possum Creek MetroParks. Led by Cox Arboretum horticulture technician Brian Malin, volunteers participate in the full process — from seed to harvest.

Each year, the garden plan is a little different as the annual, edible and ornamental plants are rotated, Malin said. This year, The Foodbank gave MetroParks a list of the fruits and veggies its clients like best, and those faves were incorporated into the plan.

The ELG teaches people how to add edible plants to their own landscapes. It also demonstrates how to live more sustainability, since gardening saves energy and water, and gardens provide important nutrients to the soil and habitat for wildlife.

“I can’t grow vegetables at home because my yard is too shady,” ELG volunteer Kristi Sherman said while pushing basil seeds into plant trays. “This allows me to help grow food — everything from pumpkins to peanuts — while also giving back to the community through donations to The Foodbank.”

Interested in volunteering for the Edible Landscape Garden? Contact Candy Holloway at cholloway@metroparks.org or 937-275-PARK.

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