Changing our community’s landscape, one garden at a time.
Madisonville is a neighborhood of Cincinnati that has a lot going for it, especially for a gardening project. There are large lots, generations of garden tradition, and active community partners in the Madisonville Community Council, the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Council, and local churches.
Sidestreams Foundation, Inc., 500 Gardens’ parent organization, has partnered for two years with Lighthouse Community School on Desmond. It has had success in building gardens with the students, at first on the school parking lot and later in a nearby vacant lot at Ward and Chandler. We have facilitated job training for young people and provided fresh food to our gardens’ neighbors.
Madisonville has a vibrant mixture of ages, ethnicities, incomes, and family origins. Yet it carries a USDA Food Desert designation. Through the Lighthouse work we have learned that there IS a desire for fresh vegetables in the neighborhood. This is how the idea to have 500 food gardens in Madisonville for the 2014 garden season originated!
The 500 Gardens project’s goal is to give Madisonville residents and businesses the chance to grow their own vegetables successfully, for a very small initial investment. This calls for not only getting a raised garden bed, but also acquiring some basic gardening knowledge, plus someone to coach the new gardener through their first season. The garden itself is 4 feet by 8 feet, built on site of pressure-treated lumber and unique connectors, and filled with good garden soil. Fifty dollars buys all that from 500 Gardens. As needed, applicants can get a garden in exchange for “sweat equity”—working to build others’ gardens or helping the project in other ways.
Our project’s task breakdown includes:
- Market this opportunity to Madisonville residents and businesses.
- Teach each new gardener Gardening Basics at free, local classes.
- Recruit, teach, and coach gardening Mentors. Match them with gardeners.
- Recruit, organize, and teach building and outreach volunteers.
- Organize, promote, and teach on-going urban gardening classes and workshops.
- Develop and disseminate educational materials.
- Acquire and organize lumber and soil. Manage use and distribution.
- Schedule garden building, coordinating volunteers and homeowners.
- Host monthly Gardener Gatherings during the growing season.
Click here to sign up to get a garden, tell us about an existing food garden in Madisonville, mentor, or help build. The registration then links to a calendar of (required) Gardening Basics or Mentors classes.
Our Partners and Supporters
We are asking organizations to provide volunteers to help build gardens, provide mentors to help and coach beginning gardeners, provide funds and/or materials for gardens, and promote and advertise the project.
Current partners and supporters include the Madisonville Community Council, Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corp, Lighthouse Community School, The Civic Garden Center, Scripps Howard Foundation, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Wise Temple, City of Cincinnati Health Department and Creating Healthy Communities Program, SPAX connectors, and The Helen G., Henry F. & Louise Tuechter Dornette Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee…and the list is growing!
Thank you for your interest in 500 Gardens!