YOUNGSTOWN - Brier Hill has always been known for its gardens.
And now, Jubilee Gardens on Lafayette Street is continuing and expanding on the tradition. One of the oldest known community gardens in the city has grown this year by adding a patch of land on Tod Lane behind the North Side Pool.
Keeping everything going - and growing - is Master Gardener Mary Bobersky, who has been maintaining the main plot on Lafayette Street for five years.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Joe Gorman
Mary Bobersky points out a sunflower last week at the Jubilee Gardens in Youngstown. The Master Gardener has been maintaining the Lafayette Street plot for five years.
On the grounds, which at one time consisted of a one-room school house and a playground, people can rent plots to grow food or plants for their personal use, or in some cases to give to local food banks.
Work to get the garden going really begins in the fall with compost in the plots then picks up again in March, Bobersky said. Planting begins in earnest at the end of May when the soil is ready to be tilled.
Bobersky averages between six and eight hours a day during the prime growing season. There are 32 total plots in all.
''I've been gardening my whole life,'' she said.
Several groups also help out with the garden, including the Ohio State University Extension Office. Besides maintaining the garden, Bobersky also offers gardening advice to those who have a plot.
Pat Lowry, chairman of Jubilee board, said the garden has been around since the mid-1980s. He said Jubilee tries to stay gardener-friendly by including a provision in its bylaws that at least a quarter of the board's 10 members must be Master Gardeners.
Lowry said he got involved when he began gardening a couple of years ago. He also credited different groups with helping the garden stay around.
''It's had a lot of community support to keep it going,'' he said.
He said the board decided on the Tod Lane addition earlier this year because the land is available and in a good location.
As a testament, he said, there are no vacancies available for next year's garden.
After a relatively dry summer, the recent rains have increased Bobersky's work - in the form of weeds.
''Nothing was growing, then suddenly all the weeds were growing,'' Bobersky said.
This year the garden is producing sunflowers, corn and sorghum as well as cherry trees and tomatillos, a form of Mexican tomato that someone is growing in order to make their own salsa verde, Bobersky said.