Hi, I'm Brian!

Sharing stories is what my grandfather loved to do. He understood the power of listening also as a valuable medicine. He served the Covington community as a family doctor for 6 decades until his retirement at 90 years old. For some families, he might even have delivered two or three generations of their families into life or served as their primary care giver until he retired, 57 years at this office. He had a deep belly laugh and if he liked something, he thought it was just "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful". If he saw something being done wrong, he knew how to fix it and thought it was most important to solve a problem than waste time worrying about it or pointing blame.
Listen for yourself!:
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Background

Doc Redden grew up in a small farming community in southern Indiana that came through the Great Depression relatively unscathed thanks to their resilience and ties to the earth. He knew the importance of sharing what you have with those who had less, so that all could have more. In his lifetime, he would see the spread of electricity (still very rare in rural farming communites when he was born) and the motorvehicle and the rapid advancement of medicine and other technology. A seed had been planted in him to solve problems and to help, and, in all things, he planted a seed (and maybe a few flower bulbs).
He married the love of his life and had 10 wonderful children. M. Patricia "Pat" Redden was a wonderful and devout woman who was very active in her community and loved her children with her whole heart. Raised in Cincinnati, she helped to refine and appreciate his country ways. She raised their family in Covington and then Ft. Mitchell. She was taken far too early from this world before I was born but her love continues to live on in her family and their descendants. It is through the garden that we continue both her and her husband Doc Redden's work and honor their legacy to their community and the world.

Throughout his life, Doc Redden stayed true to his roots, picking strawberries to put himself through med school and later maintaining a farming operation that transitioned from tobacco to soy beans and cattle and chickens to keep his love of the land alive. In fact, he would sometimes use his back office in Covington to hatch the eggs! He never took an appointment his whole career but patients would sign in and then go when their name was called. In his office, he would share stories about dandelion wine and his work on the farm and listen to his patients' stories and issues. He was a problem solver and did not point blame but focused on solutions and offered advice. For the children, at the end of each appointment, he would pull out a lollypop from the drawer and hand it to them on their way out. If you couldn't pay, it was not a problem. He could find a solution.

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The Next Chapter

In August of 2017, the land was purchased from the estate by me, his grandson Brian, son of his daughter Julie, with the goal of continuing on the legacy in a new way, coupling both his service to the Covington community with his love of farming and gardening. He had kept the empty lots by his property as large lawns with two large flowering beds. People appreciated this patch of green on the ride over the Roebling bridge and down Scott St, now Blvd. An almost park-like area next to his office had so much potential to bring the community together over a shared love of gardening, offering space to people without yards or sun to grow food for themselves and their community. Behind the office, the finest corn my grandpa ever saw was grown by the residents of the building, which had just been demolished at the taking of this photo, the day after closing. If that could be grown in a small backyard, what could be possible in this large and sunny space?

The Initial Build Out

We started the garden with the reach goal of filling 24 plots in our first season! But as word spread, we quickly realized that there was such an unmet need and interest in gardening that we had to bite the bullet and buy enough wood to make an additional 10 plots. We appreciate the help of the Center for Great Neighborhoods for the ability to reuse some materials and funding from one of the closed gardens to jump start this one. In fact, at the creation of the garden, three community gardens had been officially closed within the last year. Before we ever started planting for the first season, we had already all of the 34 plots reserved (technically 33 full 8 ft x 8 ft plots and two half sized plots), mostly individuals and families, as well as the Eastside Child Development Center (infant to preschool age students) directly across the street and the Teenage Program from the Covington branch of the Kenton County Library. The money for the soil was donated by Greenery33 as part of their initial fundraiser, and, with that great soil, the plants flourished.
My brother Mark and I built a fence, and divided the flowers from grandpa's existing flower beds around the property and along the fence. Neighbors helped us plant, weed, and mulch and together we planted fruit plants such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries and honeyberries along the fence, along with vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, chard, kale, collard greens. Much of this thanks to the help from Keep Covington Beautiful as part of their Great American Clean Up and volunteers from the Karma Program at Rooted Yoga and members of the Garden and community as a whole. Later, as things became ready to harvest, we posted bilingual signage encouraging our neighbors to partake of the bounty. And they did! So many people have shared stories of their love of Doc Redden and the appreciation of the garden for its beauty and the benefit of the food. Food is now also being donated to Be Concerned, our local food pantry, to help bring it into the homes of those in need. Food is a unifying thing; everyone eats. But culture and society have been formed around seasons and growing and harvesting cycles. This can be something we often forget in our modern society, but something we are also intrinsically called to remember.

We are doing big things!

Making the best use of space is our desire. With a limited amount of horizontal space, sometimes you just need to grow tall. These sunflowers provide the benefit of beauty, whimsy, pollinator food, and later bird food through their seeds. We seek to reconnect our neighbors with the land, and with each other, to make them again the protagonists of their stories. Our vision is simple: to grow beauty alongside vegetables, people alongside community, and stories alongside knowledge. We do this by providing space, and knowledge, and companionship, and something as little as a seed.
The beginning of our seed library

It starts with a seed

Pictured to the right is the beginning of our seed library, a 3x3 card catalog of sorts which we used in the early Spring to share seeds with our neighbors. A garden needs very few things; sun, earth, water are essential but a plant starts from a seed. By providing this at no cost, we were able to start many gardens, both in our gardening space and beyond. In our first year, we were able to get donated seeds from some seed companies as well as the Ohio Valley Seed Swap that gave us a very generous donation of seeds that we were able to share and use to stock our library. Ideally over time, we will be able to harvest our own seeds and keep local heritage and naturalized seeds and their associated fruits in our food supply. This photo was taken at our kick off festival in April right before our season officially started. We will be having an end of season Harvest festival to bring the community as a whole together again and to reveal the mural which will be completed on the old office building (more details to be revealed), through funding by the Creative Community grants (Info here) through the Center for Great Neighborhoods and ArtsWave.
 
From the seeds grew many wondrous things — community, conversation, knowledge sharing and learning, as well as sooo many plants. And in each plot, we had stake holders who grew their food for themselves and their families. And quickly realized how much excess they had to share and trade, and donate. Pictured here are the three sisters which had been traditionally used by many Native American communities, and an example of understanding natural processes and using them to their advantages. The eldest sister corn grows strong and tall and provides spport as a trellis to the beans, which help to make nitrogen available in the soil for the squash and corn. The squash, referred to as the middle sister, grows along the ground, serving as a living mulch to keep the moisture in the soil and the weeds from growing. In this version, squash and corn is grown in a checkerboard pattern on little hills to promote strong growth. Beans are planted later when the corn is of a substantial size. This in turn is a model for our community and a chance to share a story.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing stories and knowledge is important. Through the garden, neighbors meet neighbors, regardless of background or age or differences, bonding over a shared love of gardening, both newly inspired or long-seeded. A neighbor may walk down the street to ask about tomatoes or inquire on the progress of the garden in general, and, even inside the fence, the gardeners have even watched out for neighboring plots, sometimes only later meeting the plot owner. Over time new connections were made and old ones were deeper rooted, both with those directly participating in the garden and the community as a whole. Many gardeners even realized as plant started producing, that they had more than enough to share, give away or trade. Giving someone a fish might feed them for a day and teaching them might feed them for a lifetime, but, by teaching someone to garden, that person can feed their whole community.
The extra produce and that produced along the fence and in the community plot was meant to share. In the photo to the left is our first harvest for the food pantry. It is in this direction, that we hope to continue to grow, to add more accessible methods and plots to our garden, to expand our pollinator gardens, to incorporate more methods of growing and producing healthy food, from mushrooms to honey, from eggs to fruit trees and bushes. We have accomplished so much in our first year through ingenuity, work ethic, and a DIY mind set and relying on the community to take ownership and interest. There are many easy play on words in gardening, but none easier than that we are continously growing. The seed has been planted and we nourish it and enjoy the fruits of its bounty. We have many dreams for the garden that we will work to over time. Berries, fruit trees, and perrenial beds will take a few years to establish, but this initial investment will pay off and things will only continue to flourish.

At this time, we have no working budget, we are actively seeking grant sources and funding, but otherwise the project costs come out of my own pocket and the generosity of those involved and those who wish to support the work we are doing. We can accept tax-deductable donations through PayPal.

To donate, please click here
For more information or to otherwise contact us, please email us at plots@reddengardens.org or use the contact form

909 Scott Blvd, Covington, KY 41011 – Dr. John D. & M. Patricia Redden Memorial Garden ©2019