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Horses to plow community garden

A team of draft horses will kick off a downtown community garden’s second season on Saturday.

The Jefferson Street Oasis Community Garden, located at the former St. Mary Church site, 1027 W. High St., will be plowed by draft horses at 11 a.m. Saturday. The event is free, open to the public and a free soup lunch will be served.

The garden began last year as a collaborative ministry program between the Children’s Rescue Center Inc. and the Cincinnati Archdioceses, which owns the land.

The garden produced enough food for the organization to make two sizable donations to three local food pantries, including Daily Bread West, St. Vincent De Paul and St. John’s, as well as produce for participants and their families.

Meredith Berzins, co-executive director of the Children’s Rescue Center, said she believes the event will provide a unique opportunity to inner-city children, some of whom have never seen horses before.

“It’s giving the kids a new experience,” Berzins said.

Garden co-organizer Terry Fredrich said as many as 10 horses, including Belgium and Percheron breeds, will work the ground.

Last year, the garden had 12 plots and nine participants, with gardens ranging from 225 to 900 square feet.

This year, Fredrich said they’ll plow 25 plots and “see how many people we get.”

In the future, Fredrich sees the garden as possibly being used for urban agriculture similar to those in bigger Rust Belt cities like Milwaukee and Chicago. The produce from those gardens are used for farm stands, farm markets, specialty restaurants and prepaid box orders.

The size of the garden is about 1.2 acres and Fredrich hopes to lease more space in the future.

“It’s a large enough area within the city that it would lend itself to (urban agriculture),” he said.

The site is perfect, he said, because the former St. Mary Church was built on the edge of Springfield at the time and has great soil.

He’s hoping for a large turnout on Saturday.

“We’d like to see as many people as possible,” Fredrich said.

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