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Akron Cooperative Farms Offers Space for Gardening and Gathering

Akron Cooperative Farms is Akron's largest community garden, with 300 plots on five acres on Gaylan Drive in North Hill.
Akron Cooperative Farms is Akron's largest community garden, with 300 plots on five acres on Gaylan Drive in North Hill.

Akronites who are interested in gardening but don’t have the space or the skill can join a new urban farm cooperative.

Akron Cooperative Farms this month tilled the earth at an unused baseball park in North Hill.

Now with about 300 plots, the five-acre urban farm is ready for planting.

It is the largest shared garden in the city, said Co-op Executive Director Doug Wurtz.

Wurtz worked with Akron’s Bhutanese population a few years ago while volunteering for the International Institute of Akron. Over the past decade, many Bhutanese families left refugee camps in Nepal and have made Akron their home.

Knowing agriculture is central to the Bhutanese lifestyle, Wurtz launched a small community garden in North Hill a few years ago, but he wanted to do more. He worked with the city’s Neighborhood Assistance department, which offered the use of Sammis Park on Gaylan Drive in North Hill for a larger endeavor.

The co-op is open to anyone who wants to grow food and enjoy a sense of community, he said.  

“This is a multi-cultural effort. I’m trying to bring all the aspects of the community in Akron together,” Wurtz said. “There are many Nepalis here so part of that is being able to give them access to gardening. I want to be able to include our whole community  and build something completely new here.”

Gardeners pay a seasonal fee to cultivate a plot from May through October: $25 for a 10-foot by 20-foot plot and $45 for a 20-foot by 25-foot plot.

So far, 90 gardeners have signed up. The fee helps pay for seeds, gardening supplies and water. The co-op offers some seeds and tools, as well as water and gardening assistance.

Organizers hope to launch a farmers market from produce grown at the co-op, and partner with nonprofits such as Let’s Grow Akron and the National Park Service’s Countryside Farms. Future programming is expected to include community meals, workshops and musical performances, he said.

The co-op works with the Akron Leadership Foundation, through which monetary donations can be made. The group also accepts donated goods related to gardening and welcomes volunteers. For more information, visit the Akron Cooperative Farms website or call 330-247-8115.

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