Leaders of a quiet Over-the-Rhine civic garden that harvests produce like peaches, tomatoes, garlic and blackberries to sell at Findlay Market are worried they could be forced to relocate after nearly 15 years.
CitiRama, a partnership between the Cincinnati Homebuilders Association and the city of Cincinnati that holds annual or biannual home shows on chosen urban plots of land, has proposed that the lot at 1718 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine currently housing the Eco Garden project (run by local nonprofit Permaganic) be amended to house the site for its next event, which could force the garden to relocate.
The Livable Communities Committee on Feb. 26 was presented a memo submitted by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., recommending that the Eco Garden lot, which is currently subletted to Permaganic for its Eco Garden program by the Civic Garden Association (CGA), be relocated so the site can be procured for CitiRama. The parcel of land is owned by the city, who subleases to the CGA.
If the entirety of the Eco Garden is forced to move elsewhere, the city would fund the garden’s startup and relocation costs, according to Dohoney’s memo. Permaganic co-founder Angela Ebner submitted a presentation to the Strategic Growth Committee on March 5 to explore possible compromises.
Permaganic has allegedly expanded the Eco Garden beyond the property bounds included in its lease; if they return the overflow back to the city for CitiRama use, the city would agree to sell the Eco Garden’s rightful plot of land to CGA, which would prevent any future relocation conflicts.
CitiRama’s events are designed to attract potential homeowners and developers to pinpointed plots of land in hopes of reviving urban areas with new housing opportunities, but there’s also a heavy focus on sustainability.
The Eco Garden recruits local at-risk teens for a job readiness program, which allows the teens to work in the garden in exchange for a stipend. Supporters of the Eco Garden are concerned that moving the garden would be disruptive for the youth who see the space as a “home away from home.”