Greenhouse Donation Creates Opportunities for Avondale Students

No one wanted to see it happen. A perfectly good greenhouse go to the landfill. But that’s exactly what was planned to help make way for Cincinnati Children’s College Hill expansion project — until Maggie Adams had the idea to call the Cincinnati Zoo.

“It turns out the zoo had just the perfect project, and the timing couldn’t have been better,” said Adams, a grounds technician at College Hill.

Plans are underway for the 2021 Reds Community Makeover in Avondale. One of the more remarkable features of this year’s Community Makeover is the Cincinnati Zoo’s Urban Learning Garden at Rockdale Academy. The nearly one-acre project includes an amphitheater, gardens, trails and a greenhouse—the same greenhouse that has stood on the property at Cincinnati Children’s College Hill location for the past seven years. It has been used as a nurturing part of patient therapy.

Crews dismantled the structure in mid-April, and it will be reconstructed at the Rockdale Academy site in time for the Reds Community Makeover Day on July 29.

“Just to know the greenhouse is going to continue its lifecycle in such a meaningful way gives us at College Hill a very good feeling,” said Greg Renzenbrink, College Hill business director. “We’re sad to see it go, but it’s great to know that it will be helping another set of kids in a different and potentially transformational way.”

Rockdale students will experience agriculture, horticulture, ecology, and biology up-close and hands-on in a living laboratory and curriculum. “The outdoor learning space, and especially the greenhouse, is going to provide a unique enrichment opportunity for our students and help bring our vision as a global conservation school to life,” said Dr. Jaren Finney, principal at Rockdale Academy.

As an added benefit, the gardens at Rockdale will not only support school curriculum but also provide fresh food and nutritional skills to the community.

"Our students will have the chance to plant flower beds, fruits and vegetables. We also want to sell what we grow to the community. And then there are all sorts of other lessons students can learn about finances and economics,” she said. “We’re building productive citizens, and we’re planting those seeds now. Who knows how or where they can grow? Maybe our students will be inspired to study science or horticulture as a result of this early exposure.”

For now, Finney and the team at Rockdale are just glad to have been picked to be the first Urban Outdoor Learning Garden in Cincinnati. “We feel blessed to have this opportunity for our students. It’s reassuring to know that there is significant support from our neighborhood partners like Cincinnati Children’s and the Cincinnati Zoo,” said Finney. “This is going to be a signature project for our zoo, and because of that, our commitment to this project is indefinite. This is a forever thing,” said Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

With endless opportunities, the urban learning garden and greenhouse are sure to nourish, educate, and inspire students for years to come.

(Pictured) Crews dismantle the greenhouse at College Hill.

Dr. Jaren Finney points to where the greenhouse and the Urban Learning Garden will be built.

Reds Community Day Makeover

When: Thursday, July 29

Where: Six sites in Avondale including: Rockdale Academy, South Avondale Elementary, Boys and Girls Club, Crest Smiles Dental Clinic, Blair and Rockdale/Harvey Ballfields and Larona Park.

Who: The Reds, P&G, Cincinnati Children’s, the Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Public Schools and a host of Avondale community partners.

For more information or questions or call (513) 636-9327.

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