Firestone Park residents cultivate, encourage urban gardens

Madeleine Stavarz and Dave Cranston show some of the tomatoes they harvested from their garden in Akron.

A young couple and a retired railroad worker and pilot are both cultivating the soil in Firestone Park and trying to encourage the idea of urban gardening.

Madeleine Stavarz and Dave Cranston have turned their love of gardening in their small Firestone Park front yard into an Instagram account to encourage others to grow and cook with fresh foods.

Maurice Howard has turned a vacant lot next to a house he rents in Firestone Park into a community garden with hopes to encourage others to garden and provide food to low-income families in what he calls a food desert.

“Growing food is vital to our own food security,” said Lisa Nunn, executive director of Let’s Grow Akron, a nonprofit that encourages gardening and supports 30 community gardens, including Howard’s garden in Firestone Park.

“People are starting to see some of the food shortages based on supply chain issues and transportation issues since COVID hit, but also I believe that people are becoming more aware of the quality of the food that they eat,” said Nunn. “You have the most control over what’s in your food by growing it yourself.”

“Planting seeds that are inexpensive or seedlings that are inexpensive or ones that you can even get for free and to be able to produce your own food, saves you money at the grocery store and ultimately, being outside and working in the soil contributes to your own physical and mental health as well,” she said.

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