Keystone Community Garden connects urban neighborhoods to sustainable produce

During a time in which 51 percent of Americans will live in poverty sometime before the age of 65 and an estimated 20.7 percent of all children under the age of 18 in the U.S. currently live in poverty, Neyer Properties is rolling up its sleeves and taking its talents to the dirt.

The Cincinnati-based sustainable real estate developer has taken on yet another project that promotes its unwavering dedication to ethical and environmentally-friendly business practices with the Keystone Community Garden at Keystone Parke in Evanston along I-71. Although originally planned for Earth Day on April 22, planting finally took place on Friday, May 13 after being rescheduled four times due to rain.

Throughout the summer volunteers will harvest tomatoes, peppers, corn, potatoes, green beans, lettuce, cucumbers and onions and donate the fresh produce to the Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry. Founded in 1976, the Over-the-Rhine kitchen is the Tristate’s oldest soup kitchen and dishes out roughly over 4,000 meals per week.

Directors from OTR Kitchen and Food Pantry and Neyer Properties.

“Neyer Properties represents the wonderful generosity of corporations in our city,” said Patricia Wakim, executive director of OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry. “It is through this kindness and support that we are able to continue our mission to care for the poor and homeless in an environment of respect and hospitality. We applaud Neyer Properties for its dedication in caring for those less fortunate.”

Of course, feeding Cincinnati is not a mission one embarks on alone; the 60 x 120 foot community garden was a team effort. Lawn Systems provided the equipment to till the land; the American Red Cross gave volunteers and the irrigation supply; and Mills Fence Company supplied a six-foot fence to protect the garden from animals. Neyer is no stranger to the other kind of corporate greenery – the kind that allows one to boast several LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified properties. Giving back is an integral part, if not the integral part of Neyer’s corporate culture.

Since 2007 the company and its employees have donated their efforts to Working in Neighborhoods with annual home rehabilitation and landscaping projects, and since 2008 have cleaned up litter and recyclables every month on Dana Avenue from I-71 south exit ramp to Evanston Avenue along Keystone Parke as part of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful’s Adopt-A-Spot program.

The location of the LEED-certified Keystone Parke, the Adopt-A-Spot area, and now the community garden is by no means an accident. Nestled against the notoriously traffic-laden I-71 not only brings attention to Neyer’s mission of sustainable developments, but showcases the results that come from adhering to that mission.

“Born and raised in Cincinnati, I believe any place where you live, work and play you have to give back if you want it to be better than when you first arrived,” said Dan Neyer, president of Neyer Properties. “The reason we have an education event to honor Earth Day is to educate with our hands, and do something that is visible and long-lasting. I think it’s the ultimate sustainability, between the air we breathe and the food we eat – it’s the only way we can live.”