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In recent years, a growing trend in urban areas has been urban gardening.
In an effort to help those who are interested in the movement, the Ohio State University Agricultural Extension will host weekly seminars in the Youngstown area.
“The more I can learn about gardening, the more successful I can be,” said Katie Shipka of Youngstown.
Shipka has dreamed of having a butterfly garden, particularly the monarch butterfly. She said the insects lay their eggs on the milkweed plant and she has been having trouble getting the milkweed plant started.
Shipka was one of about a dozen people attending the OSU Extension Office’s gardening seminars being offered every Monday at Youngstown area urban gardens. Monday’s meeting was held at the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s new Iron Roots farm on the South Side.
“We talk about mulching, keeping things off the ground, air and sunlight, reducing disease, making sure we are watering properly to prevent any problems through the season,” said OSU Extension educator Eric Barrett.
The list of topics goes on and on. The classes are free and open to the public.
YNDC senior program coordinator Liberty Merrill said the organization has many grants aimed at helping startup urban farms plant their roots in the communities. In fact, it’s encouraged to bring new life to vacant areas.
“We have about 23,000 vacant lots in Youngstown and we certainly don’t have enough people to garden on all of them, but it brings people together,” Merrill said.
The urban gardens also can be a big cost saver or a source of new income.
“You can spend $50 on seeds and plants and grow $600 to $1,000 worth of vegetables for the year,” Barrett said.
Barrett said as the growing season goes on, focus shifts toward care and maintenance and pest prevention, which is something Shipka has found beneficial.
“I’ve learned a lot. I do, every time I come,” Shipka said.