The Civic Garden Center (CGC) of Cincinnati is a non-profit organization with the mission of building community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship. It has accomplished this by supporting more than forty community gardens, delivering educational programs to schools and provided classes for all ages. CGC is one of the oldest community garden educators in the country. The center was founded in 1942 and is adjacent to the Hauck Botanic Garden.
They offer several programs for youth to learn about gardening and beyond. The CGC provides The Green Learning Station. A place where all generations can get hands-on experience and support in using environmentally responsible methods to grow gardens anywhere and everywhere: yards, rooftops, walls, patios, driveways and parking lots. It teaches about planting with the environment in mind, including; gardening techniques that maximize water usage and space; natural insect, disease and weed control, and the health and economic benefits of locally grown food.
Green Girls in STEM
An innovative program CGC offers to high school girls looking for experiences to help determine their career path called, Green Girls in STEM. They learn about the environment and how they can make a difference in their community. Kylie Johnson the Green Learning Station Coordinator said, “A favorite part of my job, is working with these high school girls and giving them the resources they need so they can succeed and gain confidence, being a woman in the science field, I have experienced discrimination, so I want the young women to know their voice can be heard.”
The students work alongside educators and STEM professionals to engineer solutions with composting, food production, storm water management and water quality problems. Field trip excursions include trips to local natural areas, labs, businesses, and community gardens. Some graduates of the program have come back to serve as mentors. This program is sponsored by a grant from Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee.
Another program they offer is for eight-12 year-olds in a garden to table experience called Summer Spouts. Each week they explore a different part of the plant life cycle and share a snack prepared from the garden. Each child must be accompanied by an adult, which helps them develop healthy habits at home together.
Teachers looking to engage their students with project-based learning can bring their class to the Green Learning Station’s STEM field trip and curriculum is a resource for middle and high school science teachers. The activities are based on Ohio science standards; the program introduces students to urban environmental issues and gives them the knowledge and skills to work towards solving them. The field trips (and transportation to them) are offered at no charge. In addition, they have a variety of free curriculum resources available on their website, which can engage your students in taking action to improve the sustainability of their school or community.
One lesson includes food systems. If a class is interested in growing food at school, or exploring how to purchase local food for the school cafeteria, you should look through the lessons in this section. They will guide students through a process of examining where the food served in the school cafeteria comes from, calculating the energy use associated with transporting that food, and looking for better options. Students can explore the possibility of starting a school vegetable garden, and will go through the planning process to design and possibly build one.