Although this campaign has concluded, it's easy to give to Ohio University and support the OU Child Development Center General Support Fund.
Below Kristin Barron '06, Assistant Director at the Child Development Center, recalls the Garden’s special history:
The Child Development Center moved to The Ridges in 2001. A couple years after that a few teachers started a small garden. One year a few parents joined teachers to design and plant the Garden with a sunflower house. In 2006, teacher Shelley McNally '98, '06 dreamed of a bigger outdoor space for children. A group of teachers, along with then Assistant Director of the CDC Terry Swank '91, '01, '16 — who was also a Master Gardener — met for a year to plan to expand the Garden to its current size. Designed with "rooms" and planned to provide a variety of sensory experiences, the Garden came together in the Spring of 2007 with the first Garden Work Day. Dozens of people attended to help create the Garden as it is now. Post holes were dug, gates were built, fence was installed, raised beds were built.
The Garden quickly flourished. Grasses were planted at the front gate to create a feeling of walking into a different space. An archway lead to a sunflower house with a gate at the end to travel back into the rest of the Garden. There were spaces for vegetables, annual flowers, and perennials. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes were planted. Staff decided there would always be a digging spot — a place for children to dig and find worms or freely play while others were working in the Garden. With compost from the University, the harvest was huge! Zucchini, zinnias, and cosmos would became the traditional things grown year after year. Flowers were donated each Monday to hospice.
The Garden in 2011
Because the Garden became such an important part of the school and was so successful, the administrators (Terry Swank and Cathy Waller '79, '91, '16) decided the Center would host a Garden Party at the end of July. The first was in 2008. It was large from the start! Classrooms made food from the Garden, many people were invited, the children arranged flowers for the tables, decorations were made, and some people dressed up for the special occasion. Cathy Waller promoted the Garden Party as an annual event and a way to build connection between the Center, University, and community. Terry Swank was instrumental in the ongoing upkeep of the Garden and organization of the Garden Party as were many teachers and children at the Center.
Kristin '06 with husband Keith Barron '04, '14, and son
at the 2019 Garden Party
In recent years the groundhog population on the Ridges has soared and despite the staff's best efforts, the groundhogs continue to find ways into the Garden. Sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and zucchinis are favorites of the groundhogs. While the pandemic stopped much of what was normal for the CDC or its staff, it did not stop the Garden's good soil from growing lots of weeds. The CDC is now working to get the Garden back to where it should be: a beautiful and well-cared-for space that grows a variety of plants. Barron shared, "We want children to be a part of this process through planting, tending, harvesting, and eating, and for teachers and families to feel a strong connection to the Garden."
Because the Garden is 14 years old, there are many things needing repairs. The Garden needs a new fairy house, archway, gate, new fencing, mulch, new raised beds, and ways to continue to battle the groundhogs. Many parents and friends have volunteered their time over the past few weeks to pull weeds. Today, the CDC invites you to support in another way — with a gift to the Child Care Center Fund. This fund was created to support the greatest needs at the CDC. This year’s focus will be the Garden. With your support, the CDC will again make its garden a magical place for current and future children and families to enjoy.
All gifts, no matter the size, are appreciated. Together, we will renew The Garden. Thank you!
Photos of The CDC Garden (July 20, 2021)
If you’ve visited the CDC in the past year, you’ve likely noticed the Five Springs Farm crew building the new playground. John DiVincenzo ’88 generously provided funds to transform the green space into a magical natural playground in memory of his late wife, Lisa Donovan ’89, '93, who got her start working with children at the CDC when she was an undergrad at OHIO. Sadly, while working on this special project, Mason Chambers '87, owner of Five Springs Farm and Nursery, and a close friend to John and Lisa, also passed away. To learn more about the legacy that Lisa and Mason leave behind, and the new, naturalistic Lisa Donovan Memorial Child Development Center Playground, read the OHIO News story.
Special thanks to CDC parent David Wanczyk, and to his daughter, a former student, for helping to name this campaign!
Gifts at the Dahlia level will help to refresh the Garden space by replacing mulch and enhancing the beauty of this space.
Gifts at the Zinnia level will help to replace the fairy house in the Garden so that current and future children can enjoy the whimsy of visiting fairies while exploring the outdoors.
Gifts at the Lavender level will contribute toward replacing gates at the Garden. Better gates will be a major deterrent to those pesky groundhogs!
Gifts at the Sunflower level will help to purchase a new arbor for the Garden, allowing the children to enter the sunflower house in style and providing a lovely backdrop for photos.
Gifts at the Echinacea level will provide funding for new raised beds in the Garden. Raised beds add height to the garden, giving our littlest kids something to lean on while exploring the colors and textures of the Garden, and making it difficult for our furry friends to munch on the plants.