Urban Victory Garden marks 10 years

WARREN — It was 10 years ago when members of the Community Concerned Citizens II established the Urban Victory Garden on the southwest side of Warren.

Those who have worked at the garden off York Avenue gathered Saturday to celebrate the milestone.

David Ruffin said the garden was started in May 2009 to address the food desert on the west side of Warren, which had no grocery store in the immediate area. He said the garden allowed people to grow their own vegetables and produce, for which they may have had a limited budget to purchase.

“We have had some very good growing years there and other years that were not as good. We have had people using the garden since we started it,” he said.

Ruffin said different community events such as “Chef in the Garden” cooking programs, speakers and tours have been held at the garden.

“People have come to the garden for classes and shared recipes and food. We have donated items to the homeless shelters,” he said

Steve Hudkins, a retired Ohio State University Extension educator now living in Texas, attended the event and recalled Warren resident Mary Ann Franklin asking him to help them start a community garden in 2008.

Genevieve Germaniuk, a master gardener who took classes from Hudkins, said the people at the garden appreciated what they were able to do and learn.

“Steve had an energetic enthusiasm, which inspired us to learn and help others in the city,” she said.

Hudkins said people could get garden plots once the garden was established, with more than 40 the first year. The garden later grew to 50-plus plots

“The master gardeners were already aware of the area since they were working with the nearby Jefferson School, which had a garden,” he said.

Franklin, coordinator of the garden, said getting started took time and was not easy.

“Some said it couldn’t be done, but we did,” she said.

Franklin said she remembers when Ruffin proposed the idea, and she agreed such a garden would help the area.

She said over the years the garden has seen some changes, including a children’s section at one time.

“There were so many who helped us keep our heads above water and make this a success,” she said.

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