by Cassie Mattia

Loveland, Ohio – Now more than ever is the time to encourage our youth to both protect and benefit from our ever-changing environment! This is exactly what local non-profit, The Loveland Learning Garden, aims to achieve.

The Loveland Learning Garden, located at 600 Loveland-Madeira Road (Loveland Primary and Loveland Elementary school grounds), dedicates everything to giving kids the opportunity to form “lifelong connections to the wonders of the natural world.” The non-profit outdoor education program not only strives to build awareness and community support but also maintains vegetable and flower gardens, as well as a nature trail used for hands-on learning. The 1st-4th grade students involved are able to get an interactive experience, through a 20-week curriculum (taught by “Garden Educators” during the school day in the Spring and Fall), with nature while still adhering to the academics they are being taught in class. Seeing how food is grown, tasting fresh produce, and harvesting food that is eventually donated to local non-profit LIFE Food Pantry are just a few things students are able to get involved in at the Loveland Learning Garden.

Board President, Laurie Flanagan, believes that exposing the over 1,200 Loveland students that the outdoor education program serves to the environment at an early age will leave a lasting impact of positive impressions with nature.

We’re instilling a love of nature, joy, and wonder in discovering the outdoors and influencing the growth of the next generation of people who care for our environment,” Flanagan said, “We have a diverse volunteer base of ages and backgrounds and welcome everyone! For example, we have students from the LHS National Honor Society, Tigers in Service, and the LHS Environmental Club who have helped us, University of Cincinnati students, workgroups, church groups, students from neighboring school districts, local parochial schools, and many individuals from across the Cincinnati area.

The Loveland Learning Garden operates using dedicated volunteers so gaining new talent is vital to keeping the non-profit education program running. “In order to successfully sustain our program, we seek people who want to share their talent and ‘dig in’ to join us by taking on leadership roles on our board or owning pieces of work that make the organization run,” Flanagan explained, “Our committees include education, communications, garden and trail maintenance, volunteer recruitment, and grants/fundraising.”

During the months of March-October volunteers are heavily needed in order to maintain both the garden and nature trail. If you or your organization would like to volunteer email the Loveland Learning Garden.

Here at Loveland Magazine, we found the Loveland Learning Garden to be both interesting and inspirational so we decided to meet Laurie Flanagan, Melanie Simon, and Jen Banzinger at the garden for an on-camera tour. To see just what the Loveland Learning Garden is all about watch the video below!

The Loveland Learning Garden will be a part of the 2021 Great Outdoor Weekend sponsored by Green Umbrella. On September 25th from 9 AM-1 PM, the Loveland Learning Garden will be holding a scavenger hunt for kids ages 4-10. For more information click the above Great Outdoor Weekend link!

To stay informed on all the latest Loveland Learning Garden updates you can visit their Instagram and/or Facebook.

Loveland Learning Garden History
The foundation for Loveland Learning Garden was planted in 2002 as a floral garden on grade school grounds thanks to the vision of a grandmother who wanted to share the joy of picking fresh flowers with children. With the addition of vegetable gardens and a nature trail in the woods behind the school, Granny’s Garden School grew to be one of the most comprehensive school garden programs in the country and was recognized as a model for nature-based education training. In 2016, the founder retired while a new group of leaders, believing in the value of the program to students and the community evolved the nonprofit to its next iteration. Today, with new energy and a refreshed identity, the Loveland Learning Garden operates with strong, collaborative school partnerships, diverse leadership, community involvement, and a continued passion to educate and inspire children to the lifelong benefits found through nature. 

For more local inspirational stories stay tuned to the Loveland Salad With ME, Cassie Mattia!

Columnist Cassie Mattia is a resident of Historic Downtown Loveland. She is the Co-Owner, Associate Editor, and Director of Marketing of Loveland MagazineContact Cassie if you are interested in promoting your event or business in Loveland Magazine. Cassie also Emcee’s events so feel free to reach out if you are in need of an Emcee for your next event, fundraiser, or sports-related competition.