Austintown repurposing empty lot into garden to supply food banks

The seven-acre plot in Austintown was once home to Woodside Elementary School for over 65 years until it closed and was torn down

Woodside Community Garden groundbreaking, Austintown

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Austintown residents are planting seeds for the future with a new effort to revitalize a cherished plot of land.

They broke ground on the Woodside Community Garden Thursday, hoping to make new memories on the lot that’s been empty for about four years.

The seven-acre plot was once home to Woodside Elementary School for over 65 years until it closed and was torn down.

“We hope to fill this space, seven acres, with one of the largest food forests in the country,” said Austintown Trustee Rick Stauffer.

The idea is for the community to help plant and grow everything from flowers to fruit. They started Thursday night with sunflowers.

Eventually, all the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden will benefit local food banks.

“This is unprecedented. For the trustees to basically say, ‘Here’s seven acres of prime Austintown real estate,'” marveled Dale Batista, a Woodside Community Garden committee member. “We’re quite honored by this and it’s quite a responsibility.”

Stauffer said they would also love to dig a well there to provide their own water, if there’s enough money to do so.

The community couldn’t be more thrilled to pitch in.

“I’m all for it. You know, I figure the love and the things that we can do…together. I can learn so much from anybody and I’ll definitely get my hands dirty in this,” Patrick Simms said.

But the garden is still looking for some extra hands.

“We need lots of sponsors, as well as a small army to do it,” Stauffer said.

For more information on how to donate or get involved with the Woodside Community Garden, visit them on their website or Facebook page.