Central State building new botanical, community garden facility

Officials from Central State University and Rid-All celebrated the school’s upcoming community garden with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The garden should be ready by spring, CSU’s president said.

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Officials from Central State University and Rid-All celebrated the school’s upcoming community garden with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The garden should be ready by spring, CSU’s president said.

Central State University is partnering with a Cleveland-based organization to create a new botanical and community garden on campus.

Work will begin this month on the garden which will include a raised bed facility modeled after Rid-All green partnership’s gardens in Cleveland, according to the university.

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Rid-All has turned empty plots of land in Cleveland into organic “urban farms” which include two green houses and four hoop houses, according to the organization’s website. The organization also educated people on the best methods to provide access to healthy, quality, safe and affordable food.

Central State and Rid-All leaders celebrated the garden partnership with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. The garden facility will cost around $700,000 and an accompanying aquaponics facility will cost $125,000, said CSU spokeswoman Edwina Blackwell-Clark. Both will be paid for by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“The botanical garden will be a space that allows the community to come in and plant their own little plot of land and grow food that is healthy and will support their lifestyles,” said Central State president Cynthia Jackson-Hammond.

With work beginning this month, Jackson-Hammond said the university hopes the land will be prepared by spring so community members can pick out plots of land they would like to own and use.

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The decision to create the garden was made as part of Central State’s focus on being an 1890 land-grant institution, Jackson-Hammond said. Being a land grant school, Central State is expected to focus its attention on the needs of the community and state, including agriculture.

Central State was designated a land grant institution in 2014 and as such has partnerships with other land grant colleges, including Ohio State University, Jackson-Hammond said.

“This is such an amazing time for Central State University. I think this is the first opportunity that the public really understands what it means to be an 1890 land grant institution,” she said. “Today we are so fortunate to inaugurate our partnership with Rid-All.”

The garden is just the latest of several new initiatives launched by Central State since the school was removed from state fiscal watch in April.

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The historically black college’s environmental engineering and social work programs recently gained accreditation and the campus is in the midst of something of a transformation with more than $20 million in projects underway.

In July CSU was named HBCU of the year and in late September, Central State became one of just two colleges to offer to operate a lab to test medical marijuana for Ohio’s new medical pot industry.

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