Midtown garden thrives on lot vacant since 1956

Jana Loflin and Lisa Murphy at the entrance to a Midtown garden accented by trophies, painted car tires, gnomes and other highlights.

One feature in the Urban Farms & Garden Tour  June 22 and 23 will be a Midtown garden that has gotten the nickname “the trophy garden.”

Climb the stairs past the baseball and bowling trophies and tires painted colors like purple, red and lime green and you see a sign for “Der Biergarten.”

Things like hops, barley and rye grow there but it is just one section in a quarter acre garden now used by about 15 people.

Jana Loflin lives in a house adjacent to the garden at East 32nd  and McGee streets and started the garden three years ago.

She bought the empty double lot that had been unused since a house burned down there in 1956, she said. People dumped trash there before and occasionally still do.

But she tries to make use of it, she said, and even the recently deposited French fry baskets might be used for shopping at a farmers market.

Some of the garden produce is communal and some is grown in personal plots, she said, but she tries to have some left over to leave out for strangers and to take to homeless people she works with at a mental health center.

“Eventually we will grow stuff along the perimeter so people going by can pick what they want,” she said.

Lisa Murphy, who lives in a Crossroads condo, has a plot in the trophy garden and was there with Loflin and Zelda, the white cat Loflin calls the garden supervisor.

“If it wasn’t for Jana doing this, I wouldn’t have a garden,” Murphy said. “I missed it terribly.”

A stroll through the garden’s various plots shows plants marked in different and distinct ways.

In one section, little signs hang from wire coat hangers stuck into the ground. The signs say things like “cabbage, ick” or “lettuce, let us.”

A big shipping container serves as a garden shed but Loflin has plans to improve it, maybe put windows in it and a roof with plants growing on it.

She also has applied for a grant to train veterans in need there so they can learn and later have their own gardens.

Meanwhile, plants of all kinds are coming up and Loflin encourages people with old trophies to leave them on the steps.


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