Foreclosed Cleveland Heights property converted into commuity garden; first of its kind for city (Sun News)

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS — The soil has been tilled and the plots laid for the Montford Community Garden, the first such project on vacant city-owned property that has gone through foreclosure and demolition.
Located on the corner of Montford and Windsor roads near the city’s northwest border, the 60-by-180-foot lot was cleared in March 2012, and at that time was owned by the Cuyahoga Land Bank. A group of neighbors – now known as the Montford Community Garden Association – took interest, and after soil tests were performed by the Ohio State University Extension, set about establishing the garden in conjunction with the city of Cleveland Heights.
“It’s a great site for a garden,” association President Pat Byrne said, noting its prominent corner placement and exposure to sunlight.
The land bank agreed to transfer ownership of the property to the city, which later installed a water line there and donated a truckload of mulch. With the assistance of the non-profit Future Heights, the association landed a $3,500 grant through Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb, and $400 from the OSO Extension Suburban Community Garden Program to cover the garden’s startup costs.
A team of volunteers has been working diligently during the past months to prepare the garden for the growing season.
“There’s a lot of folks working really hard for this,” Byrne said.
The garden now sits ready-to-plant, with 22 4-by-16-foot plots neatly aligned and bordered by wood frames. A decorative fence will soon surround it, with a perennial garden on its outside.
The plan is for gardeners to grow produce for their own use, as well as for collective donations to hunger relief organizations. Eleven plots – which can be split – are now available, and can be reserved by contacting Byrne at or via the Montford Community Garden Facebook page. Participants will pay a small fee, and be required to take part in group work sessions to maintain the site.
Besides indulging green thumbs and providing nourishment for the hungry, Byrne said a goal of the garden is to inspire neighborhood camaraderie.
“We want it to be a place where we can invite people in,” he said.
Added Heights Community Garden Network founder Jeff Coryell, “It is hoped that this garden will be an inspiration and example for other neighborhoods across the area, all of which have vacant lots as a result of the foreclosure crisis.”
A dedication ceremony for the garden is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
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