Streetsboro -- A new community garden brightens the landscape at Portage Pointe Apartments.
There are 34 flower and vegetable gardens maintained by 27 residents in 4-foot by 4-foot squares surrounded by wooden garden boxes.
"It's exciting," said Renee Meinke, property manager for the apartments. "We're striving to have more of a sense of community. We want to make it more of a place where people can enjoy themselves.
"Being in an apartment limits you from growing a garden, so this gives [residents] an opportunity," she said. "The residents love the gardens. That's the important thing."
The apartment complex, located at 9001 Portage Pointe Drive, has 296 apartments and is in the beginning stages of installing a dog park for its residents, a one-mile walking trail and a new $35,000 playground, as well, Meinke said.
Apartment officials hope to have the dog park done in July and the walking trail completed in August. There is no specific timetable for the playground.
But Meinke said the big focus now is the community garden, which opened in the last weekend in April. All residents were given the option to have their own garden box.
Residents pay $30 to participate, but they receive $20 back.
Portage Pointe Apartments Maintenance Supervisor Dave James has overseen the installation of the community garden, and residents have had weekly meetings to prepare for it.
"It's a pretty cool place," James said. "For some people, getting a chance to work in the garden is better than just going home and watching TV."
The entire garden is about 120 feet by 80 feet.
Although summer has just arrived, plants are already growing everywhere in the garden. Flowers and numerous vegetables are being grown -- everything from tomatoes, onions and green peppers to herbs, pumpkins and watermelons. More than 100 strawberry bushes also were planted.
Meinke said one of the residents, who is growing radishes, said she has never grown anything before. Meinke said the resident was jubilant as her radishes began to grow.
"Her grandchildren helped her plant them," she said. "She was so excited that she brought her uncle to see the garden."
A self-sustaining watering system using rain water was installed, and solar panels on top of sheds allow the gardens to use convertible solar energy to operate the watering system.
"We recycle drainage water from the roofs of the buildings," James said.
Tables and benches will be added to the garden later.
Last fall, 350 pine trees were added to the apartment complex, and 900 shrubs arrived in early June.
James praised the members of his maintenance staff for their input, adding, "We're trying to make this our own little community."
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