The EcoGarden is the center-point from which Permaganic's activities radiate. Permaganic's life-enhancing programs share the agricultural lifestyle with diverse groups of people.
Under the leadership of Luke Ebner, Permaganic is currently converting the once farm-style plot in the middle of downtown Cincinnati into a permaculture paradise with fruit trees, native plants, berries and labyrinths. The garden also includes annual fruits, greens and vegetables. The majority of the educational programming occurs at this location.
Visitors are welcome. Please contact us ahead of time as hours vary.
In 2003, Luke Ebner and Angela Stanbery were Fine Art Majors at the University of Cincinnati's College of DAAP. They found a common passionate interest in the EcoGarden, a youth program then under the umbrella of the charity IMPACT Over-The-Rhine. The youth program residing at the EcoGarden site on 1718 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine was started in 1998 by IMPACT, the Civic Garden Center, and Turner Farm with broad-based support in the community. (Eric Pawlawski was the original EcoGarden Coordinator hired by IMPACT.)
Ebner and Stanbery took turns running the EcoGarden and its younger sibling the Recycle Youth Program. In 2006, IMPACT merged under the umbrella of Memorial Inc. As the next four years passed, Luke and Angela, married in 2007, had the inkling that they might someday need to strike out and form a new umbrella, and thus Permaganic came into being. In June 2010, they recieved confirmation of 501(c)(3) status - just in the nick of time - for on August 2, 2010, they recieved a letter stating that Memorial had closed its doors after ninety-three years in existence.
Permaganic was able to continue operations after a one-month planning period by re-opening the Youth Program. Other services and amenities were added, including Permaganic Authenticated, a permaculture-based farm certification program for growers and customers alike. ("Foreword" by Dr. Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute.) During 2011 and 2012, two pavilions were built onsite by volunteers from Cincinnati Friends Meeting and others, and a wood-fired cob bread oven was built in collaboration with Children's Hunger Alliance. Permaganic was the owner of two pedal-powered produce carts, selling produce on-site as well as at the Hyde Park Market, thanks to the City of Cincinnati's Mobile Produce Vending Ordinance. Permaganic and was also privileged to be commissioned as a participant in the GreenAcres Exhibition, a two-year traveling museum show opening at the CAC in September 2012, and reopening at the Arlington Arts Center, Virginia, in June 2013.
Since 1998, the EcoGarden across from the Rothenberg Preparatory Academy has provided teens from the neighborhood with a place to learn job-readiness skills and earn money while learning invaluable life lessons and building relationships. Originally a program of IMPACT Over-the-Rhine, the EcoGarden Youth Program is now under stewardship of the charitable non-profit Permaganic. Cincinnatians who attended the GreenAcres exhibition recently at the CAC may already be familiar with Permaganic, a visionary organization whose mission statement boils down to: Urban Farming and Art with Underserved Communities. Alongside learning behaviors and skills to give them a jump-start in the workplace, Permaganic uses an innovative in-house curriculum which combines art, science, business and service-learning, crafted to give the teens we serve an interdisciplinary connection to the garden.
In 2012, Permaganic piloted a new program, raising support from the community to sponsor three CSA shares for needy families in the neighborhood. CSA means Community Supported Agriculture, where each member of the CSA receives a weekly “PermaShare” in the farm, a box of food containing a generous portion of a variety of delicious, nutritious, fresh local organic produce. The families through partnership with Children’s Hunger Alliance all ran daycare programs out of their homes. The fresh food they received fed children from many families, not just their own. Additionally, Permaganic provided the CSA members with seasonal recipes, and farm-fresh activity books for the children they serve. Sponsorship for the CSA pilot program in 2012 was generously provided by Cincinnati Friends Meeting.
Luke Ebner is the current Executive Director of Permaganic, co. After graduating from UC in 2004 with a Fine Arts degree, Luke jumped right into the EcoGarden, eventually co-founding Permaganic in 2010 to expand the potential of the urban permaculture. Since then, he has helped to transform the garden into a developed food forest with many fruit trees and perennials. Luke also helped to open and maintain the Main Street Kitchen, our additional program area located in the building adjacent to the garden. The kitchen allows youth in the EcoGarden programs to stay involved all year long, and for us to serve the neighborhood every week, offering a space for both healthy food and welcoming community.