Sylvania Area Family Services (SAFS) has a special garden planned that will benefit area children and the entire community in numerous ways. Now they need just a little help from some green-thumbed volunteers to get the good things growing.
For more details about volunteering in the garden and to sign up, click here:
“Right now we just need the help with getting it together, putting the dirt in the beds, mulching and planting,” explained Dottie Segur, Executive Director of SAFS. “We are hoping to have it ready in two weeks and have everything planted. We're a little bit late, but that’s the big thing going on right now.”
Although SAFS has had a garden on and off for decades, this year sees a big improvement.
“We got a grant from the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corporation in 2019. We held on to it because of Covid, we didn’t do anything last year with the garden,” recalled Segur. “So this year we used it to purchase the raised beds and everything that goes along with that, like the weed barriers.”
Segur shared that with the grant, SAFS was able to pay Whitmer High School to make five raised beds, and three beds elevated on legs.
“My thought process was that we have a lot of seniors, and the higher beds and elevated beds are nice for them,” said Segur. “They don’t have to bend over so much if they want to volunteer or plant something.”
Volunteers are needed for this Monday May 24, and Wednesday May 26, and then after that they will also need volunteers on select Fridays.
“The garden is for SAFS and our clients right now, but I hope, in a few years, we’ll have it large enough where everybody who wants to can have their own plot,” said Segur. “But right now it’s just for our summer camp kids, and they’ll be using it along with the OSU extension, and also church groups will be coming out over the summer to weed and care for it. We definitely do have room to expand in the future.”
In 2020, SAFS expanded the area they serve to include all of Lucas County, not just Sylvania. The summer camp is also open to the whole County. Segur said that while the majority of campers are from Sylvania the enrollment number is much higher this year, and SAFS has partnered with the Center for Hope in Toledo to help run the camp.
“We’ve had so much support throughout the pandemic, with food donations and people wanting to help in any way they can,” said Segur. “It has been just tremendous to see our community come together so much.”
The children at the SAFS Summer Camp will be spending quite a bit of time exploring in the garden, under the tutelage of Amy Creque Stone, OSU Extension Educator. Stone is now in her sixth year with SAFS.
“We engage the youth in their summer program, we take them out in the garden on Wednesday mornings to learn about gardening and plants and insects,” explained the Master Gardener. “Then the food that is grown in that garden, we use in that program with the youth, including cooking classes, but then any excess is donated to the food pantry.”
Stone shares that this year, the garden is having a transformation.
“Our goal is to make it more accessible-friendly,” said Stone. “The raised beds on legs are at a four foot level, so people can actually stand and garden.”
Stone said that the seeds and plants for the garden are donated by Toledo GROWS and her OSU Extension office, and between three and eight other Master Gardeners from the office will assist her with the children. Stone is also active with a new program, Metro Beet, which offers tours of local urban community gardens.
“She is magnificent,” commented Segur. “This garden would not have happened without her.”
Stone has been with the OSU Extension Office for twenty-nine years, and she says that by now she knows that gardening is not for everybody. But there is more to it than that.
“If people know where their food comes from, and can make that connection, my hope is that they will support the local economy by going to farmers market and support those that are growing and gardening and producing,” said Stone. “I think it’s all about making those connections.”
When the summer camp children head into the garden, they can make that connection too.
“It engages kids about how to grow their own food, and where food comes from,” added Stone.“It is always just a joy for me to see those light bulb moments. When you show the kids tomato seeds in a package, and then we have tomatoes that we cut open and show them the seeds inside and then, “Hey! They're the same thing!”
Those interested in volunteering with the garden can click here and get signed up online today: bit.ly/SAFSGardenVolunteer
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