University Church Toledo

Community Garden


Growing Food … Growing Awareness … Growing Compassion
In the Spring of 2010, The University Church relocated to a new home situated on 8 acres of land located on the south side of Hill Avenue between Richards Road and Reynolds Road in Toledo.  Our top priority is to utilize the land we have available for the good of the community and so we initiated a program to develop a community garden on the property.  The purpose of the garden is threefold:

  • Growing Food … In these difficult economic times, many people are finding it difficult to provide food for themselves and their families.  Often, fresh fruits and vegetables are simply excluded from consideration because of cost and so nutrition problems can develop, especially among children.  We will grow fruits and vegetables and make these available through a variety of distribution methods to assist those in need.
  • Growing Awareness … It is estimated by the Census Bureau that 24.7% of people in Toledo live at or below the federally-defined poverty level and yet many people are simply unaware of the plight of their neighbors.  By becoming a public presence working to combat hunger and poverty, we will help make people aware of the very troubling situation in our neighborhood.
  • Growing Compassion … Once an individual becomes involved in helping others, it is our experience that compassion grows and people are changed.  We hope to grow compassion within our church family and among our neighbors.

Bryan Ellis directs our Community Garden

Bryan leads our Community Garden initiative and came to The University Church in November, 2012 after working with ToledoGROWs for several years in urban agriculture. He has extensive experience in the many facets of community gardening, including hydroponics, aquaponics, permaculture, animal husbandry and almost anything else one would want to know! Bryan loves to talk about gardening and is always happy to help people with any questions that they might have. You can contact Bryan by e-mail.

Serving in the community

The University Church is a host site for the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) Program through The Ohio Association of Foodbanks. In 2010-2011, Ms. Jacqueline Cobb became the first of a series of dedicated VISTAs to serve at The University Church. Ms. Cobb began the community garden on bare land behind The University Church building when we first moved to the Hill Avenue location. Through her love and dedication, she laid a strong foundation for the future of this project. Currently, the program is served by 3 – 5 VISTAs.

Serving with others

In 2012, The University Church entered a community partnership with The University of Toledo as part of an interprofessional healthcare workforce development initiative. Here are some of the healthcare professionals and those in training working alongside staff and volunteers at the church:>

Accessible gardening

The University Church was selected as one of only five sites in Lucas County by the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services for the installation of a 2,100-plant vertical grow garden system, provided by the agency.

The vertical grow system allows for high-density plant growing and uses hydroponics for the delivery of nutrients and water. With the vertical grow system, we are able to produce more plants per acre. As the plants are stacked on top of each other, they are accessible to the elderly and those with mobility restrictions who don’t have to bend down to garden!

Around our garden

Our community garden includes raised beds, greenhouses, garden sheds and a hoop house. Our garden is among those featured on the MultiFaith GROWS web site.

Under development are an aquaponics facility, orchard, apiary, chicken coops and numerous other exciting projects!

Many local companies and individuals have contributed materially to the success of our community garden through the donation of goods and supplies, as well as through financial contributions. To find out how you, your company, or your organization can help, please contact us.

Come and get involved!

You can be involved in developing our community garden and making a real difference in our community through your participation in our Garden Club. Every week, volunteers meet at the church to get their hands dirty and work in the garden. Come and make some new friends this week! Meeting times vary at different times of year so please contact us for more details.