YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – More than 100 butterflies landed as part of the South Side Community Garden’s annual festival Saturday. It’s a labor of love that draws hundreds of people every year.
Where many people saw empty land, one woman saw a vision — both of what the neighborhood used to be and what it could be again.
“God told me to put a garden on my mother’s land,” said Lois Martin-Uscianowski of South Side Community Garden. “I grew up in this neighborhood. I actually grew up on the site right here where the pavilion is. So, I put a garden here.”
Just a few blocks down, the Army National Guard spent the week tearing down houses and removing blight. But at the Garden, it’s sunny and happy.
Every week, pre-schoolers learn gardening. Once a month, there’s cooking classes. And volunteers take garden-grown food to the charity Cafe Augustine.
One day every summer, hundreds of butterflies arrive to give inner city kids a free chance to get an up close look at nature they many not see otherwise.
“There’s monarchs, there’s buckeyes, painted ladies and there’s one red-spotted purple that somehow got in,” Martin-Uscianowski said.
The Mercers were among 400 people who visited the butterflies Saturday.
“This is a very nice neighborhood,” Lisa Mercer said. “My grandfather lived here up until his death, we have family in the area — never any problems. Just a good place to come and enjoy the day, enjoy the time.”