Community feature: Let’s Grow Akron
Katelyn Freil, Marketing Specialist
Stop by the community garden at Summit Lake Nature Center on any given day this summer and you’ll see neighbor helping neighbor next to raised beds, where fresh greens are intertwined with vibrant colors of tomatoes or peppers.
Chances are one of those neighbors will be Lisa Nunn, director of Let’s Grow Akron, a local nonprofit that focuses on supporting community gardening where food access, particularly access to fresh healthy foods, is low.
Let’s Grow Akron’s community garden at Summit Lake transformed along with the redevelopment of an old pump house into the newest Summit Metro Parks nature center. The gardens increase access to high quality, nutrient-dense and sustainable food for community members, while offering programming through the site’s four demonstration beds.
“Everyone needs to eat, and everyone needs to eat healthy,” said Nunn. “We’re putting the power to do this back in the hands of our neighbors and community.”
Beyond offering the space and skills to grow food, Let’s Grow Akron offers canning and cooking programs, which foster fellowship and allow space for neighbors to share. Long-time gardeners and canners bring a lifetime of experience to classes, sharing recipes, techniques and their own flavor with those growing (no pun intended!) their skills.
This sharing of food and knowledge feeds relationships beyond the garden or kitchen, where neighbors support one another in life. Lisa knows she can count on neighbors in any community where Let’s Grow Akron works should she need help.
One neighbor and friend is Jetora Carter, a Summit Lake resident and seasonal outreach assistant at Summit Lake Nature Center. Jetora and her family have gardened at the center since the old pump house days, saying the best part is interacting with Akron Let’s Grow neighbors and having fresh food available. Her goal this year is to grow everything she needs for homemade pico de gallo and spaghetti sauce.
The gardens have had a profound impact on Jetora’s family. Her daughter, Zarien, grew up in the gardens. Now 21 years old, Zarien works with Lisa at Let’s Grow Akron, building gardens and supporting programs she once enjoyed as a child.
“In the garden, people of different ages and backgrounds can come together, and it doesn’t matter your differences,” Lisa said. “Everyone is dirty, everyone is working together.”
Farmers’ Market at Summit Lake
Every Tuesday evening from June 7 to September 27, visitors can enjoy beautiful, fresh produce from the Summit Lake Neighborhood Farmers’ Market. This market has been operating at Summit Lake since 205 and continues to expand each season. Residents of Summit Lake grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruit. Some of these are used to make pickles, jams, jellies and baked goods throughout the year. Residents directly benefit from the farmers’ market by selling their produce or gaining access to fresh food that may otherwise not be available in their neighborhood. We look forward to seeing you at the next market!