East Cleveland Grows
In 2006, Gladys Walcott was taking care of her aging parents and sought out a therapeutic hobby. When she was invited to a presentation at the local library by friend, Mark McClain, she got the inspiration to begin a garden.
Morgan Taggart was speaking about the potential for unused urban lots to become valuable pockets for community and beauty. Though the presentation was poorly attended, it yielded East Cleveland’s largest and longest standing community garden when it sparked Ms. Walcott into her new hobby. Gladys partnered with the Coit Road Farmers Market (the oldest local foods institution in the region) to convert their former parking lot across the street.
EC Grows is a place where the city’s youth can learn and serve. Gladys recalls one elementary school girl who came with her class and helped harvest carrots. The young girl said that she did not like carrots from the ground, but only from the store. She was surprised and excited to find out that these carrots are one and the same, then promptly sampled her first “ground carrot” there on the former asphalt lot. Students from Shaw High School volunteered at the garden as a part of the Teen Ambassador program where they constructed raised beds for vegetable production. Truly a place for the whole community, EC Grows also partners with the city courts who send volunteers and with Key Bank whose Neighbors Make a Difference efforts help maintain and improve the space. Next on the list for the EC Grows community garden are funding / building a fence to deter deer, transitioning raised beds from wood to cinder block, and recruiting more male volunteers.