History of the Westwood Community Gardens
2163 Harrison Avenue, the site of the Westwood Community Gardens, was a long-time problem property. Crime and vandalism at that lot and in the vicinity are well documented. On the recommendation of the City Planning Commission, City Council passed an ordinance in 2005, ordering the demolition of the building, referring to it as having “required an inordinate number of police calls as a result of a variety of criminal problems”, “a financial drain on the surrounding neighborhoods”, “present[ing] health and safety risks”, and “meeting the criteria for “blight”. The building was demolished in 2007 but the lot was then used by construction and utility companies for storage. The vacant lot continued to be a venue for litter, dumping. and criminal activity, as evidenced by the types of trash found on site and crime statistics.
In 2010, Westwood Civic Association entered into a Land Use Agreement with the City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Civic Gardens for the purpose of a community garden. A couple of members of the core team were certified as Master Gardeners and were instrumental in initial designs and planning for the site. An amazing volunteer leveled the site with heavy equipment after other hard-working volunteers removed a decrepit fence and cleared the site of brush and trash. A 2011 Safe and Clean Grant from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful gave the Gardens the boost it needed to erect a perimeter fence. Support from the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati provided resources for the raised beds and the dirt we needed to actually garden in that first year. The City of Cincinnati provided mulch from tree removal projects. With 33 beds available for gardening in 2011, Westwood residents planted plots in July and harvested right through December.
In 2012, the WCG saw site improvements including a retaining wall, the last section of fence, and more plots. We poured the foundation for a toolshed in 2013 and built its frame. In 2014, thanks to generous donors and project coordinators, we were able to complete the toolshed, build some more plots, and add arbors and gates to our entryways.