Veggies in the city

An awesome idea from the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood in Cedar Rapids is moving along. Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association, said the group will present a formal request to the Cedar Rapids City Council at its meeting on Wednesday, March 26, about using one city-owned vacant lot in the neighborhood. The lot would be used on a seasonal basis as a vegetable garden demonstration project. 

The City Council meets in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of  City Hall,  at 6 p.m., with the presentation to be made during the public comment segment. The group is welcoming support for the project, regardless of where you live. Richards said the lot will be used as an “outdoor classroom” home vegetable garden demonstration project. 

 He had this to say about the project: “The objective is to encourage Oakhill Jackson families to plant their own backyard gardens.  Low income families have the very least access to real food, and consume the highest quantities of processed commodity based food.  Nationally, this dietary situation results in billions of dollars in disease care costs to deal with the rising levels of obesity as well as childhood and adult diabetes.  The Oakhill Jackson/Metro High School Community Garden Classroom is a way to mitigate this national health problem on a local level.” 

To keep the effort highly focused, the demonstration garden will be at one site in Oakhill Jackson, with families from Wellington Heights, Moundview and any other CR residents invited, as well.  Susan Jutz, former president and current board member of Practical Farmers of Iowa, is donating all seeds for this project.  She and Kate Hogg, an advocate of community-supported agriculture, will be working with Metro High students this year to “glean” surplus produce at their two farms to bring the fresh produce into the Oakhill Jackson/Metro High/Kalona Organics Store Front project. 

The storefront will provide organic milk, eggs, cheese, butter and produce to Oakhill Jackson at a wholesale/affordable price.  The community garden classroom will be part of this overall healthy/local food initiative. Richards said the group is recruiting a local Master Gardener to serve as instructor for this community open air classroom. 

As an added note, for those of you who missed the message from Carrie Marsh on a previous post, anyone who could not attend a community forum last night at the Jane Boyd Community Center can contact her. Those who want to contribute ideas on the “greening” of Oak Hill or other Oak Hil-related urban development topics, can email Carrie at:  carrie.a.marsh@gmail.com  

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