Garden to Supply Produce Center

posted 8/9/23 -- LCCAA’s proactive steps to fight hunger in Lorain County continue.

Staff members have started seeds which will be planted in raised beds outside the agency’s new warehouse on West 10th Street. Plant starters for this year include strawberries and tomatoes. Next year’s crops will also include green beans, carrots, lettuces, garlic and several varieties of peppers. If space permits, a pumpkin patch may be added also.

“Our hope is to supply some produce to the new Produce Pickup Center right next door to the new warehouse,” said CEO Jackie Boehnlein. “By growing our own food, we’re working toward long-term solutions for hunger in our community.”

The newly-installed raised beds were funded by a Healthy Places Grant from the Lorain County Health Department. The grant also includes composting and a hydroponic system.

The long-term plan is to collect compostable food waste from LCCAA’s Hopkins-Locke Head Start Center on Reid Avenue once the garden is fully up and running next year.

Staff have also been experimenting with vermiculture and worm castings, which are an excellent fertilizer, Boehnlein said. Vermiculture makes use of paper and cardboard waste in addition to organic material giving an additional use to the agency’s recyclables.

Worm castings are being used in the West 10th Street garden and will eventually spread to the agency’s garden partnership at the South Branch of the Elyria Public Library. A small-scale retail pilot selling the castings started this summer with proceeds supporting the mission of the agency.

“This approach shows that sustainable gardening techniques don’t have to be difficult,” Boehnlein said. “We’re committed to showing that, taken step by step, sustainable gardening methods can be simple and easy for anyone to do.”