Dayton residents plead to keep Garden Station

City officials and developers toured the Garden Station on Wednesday. Lisa Helm, founder of Garden Station, said she does not want it to leave the area because the community has invested time into it.

“There have been over 3,000 volunteers who built this space over eight years,” Helm said. “It is not something that can be picked up and moved easily.”

The two-acre garden, located at the corner of Fourth Street and Wayne Avenue, is leased from the city. In March, the city approved transferring the land to City Properties Group, a firm based in Louisville, Ky.

The company plans on redeveloping the property into 40 loft-style apartments with restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.

Dayton City Planner Tony Kroeger said the garden may be relocated to the Wright-Dunbar area, but nothing has be finalized.

“I can’t say specifically what the future holds for this particular geography,” Kroeger said. “I was asked to look at specific sites where something of an agricultural nature could be implemented.”

People who use the garden say it helps with Dayton’s food desert problem, and it helps bring the community together.

Annie Foos, who has grown food at the garden for four years, says she doesn’t want the garden to be moved because people who live downtown do not have a lot of places where they can grow food and other plants.

“Some people like to go out to bars and do other things like that downtown,” Foos said. “The garden is our thing, and we would be heartbroken if it is taken away.”

Garden Station was created in 2008. Previously, it was an abandoned rail yard that had issues with illegal dumping and homelessness. Volunteers used donations and recycled resources to transform the lot into a place where fresh fruit and vegetables can be grown. It is used by people who live nearby at the Cannery Lofts and in the South Park neighborhood.

The garden’s lease ended in December, but access to the property will remain until October.