Spring has truly arrived in coastal northern Ohio. Congresswoman Kaptur made the most of the burst of beautiful spring weather to draw attention to community gardening as a source of healthy, nutritious foods and community connections. With 700 plants and a box full of seeds, Congresswoman Kaptur kicked off her Coastal Green$ Power Planting Tour with stops in each of the five counties in the Ninth District.
At the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center, Marcy was joined by senior citizen participants and center Director, Cathy McVicker to talk about alternative production methods like the center’s extensive vertical growing system.
OSU Extension Educators, Lee Richter and Patrice Powers Barker encouraged participants to think from Plant to Plate, as their program title indicates. Coastal Ohio has high quality, productive soils that can nurture a wide variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Alex Marks explained the advantages of alternative growing systems, like the GardenSoxx system, for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Port Clinton residents of Lakeview Estates welcomed Congresswoman Kaptur to the community’s raised bed and fence-row gardens. Jeff Breha, Vice-President of Owners Management Group, talked about community gardens as a positive community-building investment.
Mayor Vince Leone brought new tools and words of encouragement for the resident gardeners. OSU Extension Educator Darlene Mensing shared her nutrition expertise.
Special thanks to Ann Chio, Service Coordinator, for organizing the event and for providing tasty, nutritious refreshments.
In Sandusky, Congresswoman Kaptur presented plants and seeds to participants and supporters of the Churchwell Community Garden. The half-acre garden was initiated by the Erie County Health Department.
Vertical Garden Crops
List of vertical crops
* = most popular but all do well
We encourage our growers to invest in disease and pest resistance when buying their seeds/plants.
Hot Peppers (Summer)
Sweet Peppers (Summer)
California Wonder Green Bell
California Wonder Red Bell
Greens (Spring and Fall)
“Ruby” Swiss chard
* “Georgia” Collard
* “Winterbor” Kale
Nasturtium “Tip Top Mix”
“Slicer” (medium, sandwich size)
* “Blue Lake” Green Bean
* “Tender Crop” Green Bean
* “Bush” Green Bean
* “Roc d’Or” Yellow Bean
* “Dorabel” Yellow Bean
* “Royal Burgundy” Purple Bean
* “Bush” Cucumber
* “Burpless” Cucumber
* “Saladin” Cucumber
Sugar Snap Pea
“Cherry Baby” Radish
E.C. H.D. officials, Jeanie Wertenbach and Sharon Schaeffer joined Health Commissioner Pete Schade in presenting the garden’s history and highlighting the social and nutrition connections. Special thanks to Troy Chaffin with the E.C.H.D who has directed the garden effort during its first three seasons.
Representative Kaptur was joined by Sandusky City Commissioners Diedre Cole and Wes Poole, Police Chief John Orzech, officers, Phil Frost and Ron Snyder and Sandusky City Manager Nicole Ard. Garden participants picked out seeds and began the planning process for their newly-built raised-beds.
Pastor Norva Ross of Full Gospel Ministries and Pathways Enrichment Center (PEC) in Lorain, welcomed Representative Kaptur and participants in the Center’s community garden. The garden acts as a community-building activity and a produce supplier for the PEC food pantry. Garden supporter, Councilman Eddie Edwards attended as the garden was prepared for planting.
Mercy Health System visiting nurses and Councilman Eddie Edwards joined the kick-off event. Julie Chase-Morefield, Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, praised the group’s efforts to increase local access for hungry members of the community. The PEC site is part of the Second Harvest system of pantries.
Joined by local seniors and residents of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Quarrytown Apartments, Congresswoman Kaptur concluded the final leg of her Coastal Planting Tour, in the Cleveland westside suburb of Berea.
While food deserts continue to plague some of our most vulnerable communities, and especially our senior citizens, Congresswoman Kaptur highlighted the importance of local food production and access to healthy, affordable foods including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Being the leading proponent and longtime supporter of Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which helps low-income seniors obtain locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey at various locations through coupons, Rep. Kaptur encouraged Cuyahoga County seniors to not only buy locally, but grow locally. And with the help of local residents, Rep. Kaptur handed out and planted turnips, radishes, brussels sprouts, and a variety of other greens – adding to Quarrytowns growing community garden.
Echoing Rep. Kaptur’s call for local food production, Alan Shannon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, Food Nutrition Services, Public Affairs Director, urged Cuyahoga County residents that growing and buying locally is key to good health. “Agriculture is the foundation of all societies,” he said. “You need that food growing system in place.”
Dana Irribarren from the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and Janice Davis of the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, outlined and added to the support system available to our seniors. Serving over 60,000 of Cuyahoga Counties most vulnerable, the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland seeks to supplement food resources they provide with locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
Days like these are so important – when government agencies, community organizations and local residents come together and solve real problems. Access to healthy, affordable food is a growing concern facing our seniors today, and as our community becomes more engaged, this tour serves as just one step in addressing this need.