Habitat for Humanity invests in Ravenna Community Garden

Portage County Habitat for Humanity helps support a community garden planted by children in the canton of Ravenna Skels piece.

After:The Ravenna ice rink pressed by CARE

Habitat volunteers will join children at the Freedom Road Garden near the Skeels-Mathews Community Center on September 24, when a fence will be erected around the garden. Young people, members of Children always resist enemiesspent the summer tending to the garden, said Deseree Perry, president of the group.

Rachel Kerns, executive director of Habitat, said that because homes have become so expensive to build, the agency only builds one home a year.

Habitat has launched a neighborhood revitalization program, designed to help homeowners affected by age, disability or family circumstances stay in their homes, she said. In addition to providing services such as landscaping and home repairs, Habitat also seeks community service projects, including those in historically black neighborhoods.

“We work with them to find out what their needs are,” she said.

CARE (Children Always Resisting Enemies) has set up a community garden near the Skeels-Mathews Community Center.  CARE President Deseree Perry remarks on the garden's progress.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Portage County Commissioner and Habitat Board Chair, alerted Kerns to the Skeels project. In addition to the fence, Kerns and Habitat construction manager Josh Lehman tells CARE about other projects on the property, such as picnic tables or a shelter.

Perry said the children planted strawberries, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, peppers and flowers in the garden, which sits on vacant land where a house once stood. Proceeds from the garden will offset the cost of trips made by CARE.

“We let the kids decide what they wanted to grow,” she said.

CARE (Children Always Resisting Enemies) has set up a community garden near the Skeels Center.  Several items were planted in individual beds, including squash, sunflowers, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.

K&J Tires in Atwater donated the tires, which are used in the garden to keep critters away from plants. The group rented a truck from U-Haul to bring the tires to the garden, and the kids painted them before using them for planting.

Perry and Wanda M. Warren, vice president of the group, said the church group seeks to keep children busy and encourage them to resist all enemies, including drugs and predators. The program also runs a lawn mowing program in the neighborhood, pushing a mower donated by Judge Laurie PIttman.

Perry said she and Warren had a youth slumber party at the center in 2005 and saw many children were upset.

“That’s when we realized we had to do something for the kids,” she said.

Warren said the group hopes to give advice to children.

Portage County Habitat for Humanity members visit the community garden at the Skeels Matthews Community Center, run by CARE (Children Always Resisting Enemies) participants.

“We want to be a safe haven,” she said.

Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or [email protected]

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