Going Green Gets Easier

New learning center offers tips for urban gardens and more

Aug 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati is opening a new learning station that is aimed at teaching urban dwellers how to live green.

The Green Learning Station, which is opening Aug. 20, will focus on teaching city residents about composting, catching falling stormwater for reuse and how to garden anywhere.

“We wanted to create a new education space where people could learn about nature in an environmentally friendly way,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, program manger for the Green Learning Station.

The station, which is located at 2715 Reading Road in Avondale, is free to attend and is located entirely outdoors.

“Where our parking lot is we had an abandoned gas station, so we decided to transform it into the Green Learning Station,” says Betsy Townsend, board member for the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati.

With the learning station outside, visitors can come to the station anytime, even when the Civic Garden Center is closed. The station will have a variety of different displays set up to teach people everything from container gardening to how to install and grow a green roof to different ways to grow plants when someone is dealing with limited space.

“We will have displays setup with signage so people can see how they can do these different things at home,” Townsend says. “It will be very self-explanatory, so even if you do not go on a guided tour, you will understand how you can do some of these things at home.”

One of the interesting things the center will be demonstrating is how to create a green roof for your home or business. A green roof, which is a roof that is partially or completely covered with vegetation, has become increasingly popular in the past decade.

Some of the green roofs the learning station has on display include one with 12 inches of soil that can grow large vegetables like corn or large plants, one with 4 inches of soil that can grow shallow-rooted plants like lavender, thyme and chives, and a tray system roof where plants in trays sit on a roof.

“Green roofs are interesting because they are made of the same things a regular roof is made of, but they also have greenery on them,” Mooney-Bullock says. “However, compared to a regular roof, they last a lot longer.”

Also, the learning station is working on a project that monitors how quickly storm water runs through different pavements. The center has six different forms of pavement setup and is analyzing how fast storm water moves through them to the ground. The center then is making the data available to local colleges, the Metropolitan Sewer District and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Because our sewer system was built in the 1800s, we have a problem with excess water and sewage combining,” Mooney-Bullock says. “When it rains too much, water from people’s pipes overflows and ends up being dumped into the sewer. The sewer then overflows and the overflow storm water and sewage are dumped into the rivers of Cincinnati.”

As a result, harmful chemicals are causing serious damage to the vegetation and wildlife of the Ohio River.

“We hope this study will raise awareness about collecting your storm water, so we do not continue to overflow the sewers,” Mooney-Bullock says. “These harmful chemicals that come from your toilet are not good for the environment and can cause serious long-term damage.”

The center also hopes to increase awareness about sustainable living practices and to encourage city residents to grow their own food.

“We want to bring nature back to the urban core,” Townsend says. “We want to show people that even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can still grow something in your window or on your fire escape.”

The center says scientific evidence shows that growing plants can help reduce stress and positively affect your health.

“Multiple studies have shown evidence that having a few plants or a small garden is good for stress reduction and is therapeutic,” Townsend says. “Multiple studies have also shown that people who live by green spaces have less health issues, feel better overall and got more exercise.”

By showing people simple methods for growing their own plants or vegetables, they hope urban dwellers will see the benefits of having a little greenspace in their apartments or front yards.

“We are really excited about the idea of having more greenspace in urban areas,” Townsend says. “The world is becoming more and more urban, so it is up to us to incorporate nature into our cities. As the population grows we are seeing less and less green space, and it is up to us to change that.”

FOR MORE information on the Green Learning Station visit the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati’s website at