South Side in Bloom to showcase area green spaces

A new reason for people to explore the beauty of Springfield's Southside has popped up this summer. 

South Side in Bloom is a new event dedicated to highlighting a variety of historical sites and community gardens throughout the Southside. 

"We think this will show that there's a lot more life on the Southside of Springfield than a lot of people take time to know," says Steve Schlather, tour organizer. "Some of these stops are relatively unknown to the general public and some others are well known. 

"It's good for people to know what's happening here. Some of these are places people thought were useless, but with a little organizations, people's time, grant money, and support, we can do something that benefits a whole neighborhood or the whole community."

Schlather is a volunteer with Melrose Acres Urban Agriculture Project and says the idea of a small tour of a couple Southside park and garden properties kept popping into his head. But, he wasn't sure if there would be enough interest to bring his idea to life. 

After asking around to gauge interest, the idea quickly garnered support and snowballed into the event coming this Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. South Side in Bloom will highlight 10 neighborhood parks, gardens and historical sites that help bring beauty, greenspace, and fresh produce to the Southside of the city.

And, South Side in Bloom keys up with two other annual events at stops along the tour - Grilling in the Garden at Jefferson Street Oasis and Tchotchke Palooza at Hartman Rock Garden.

Attendees can start anywhere along the free tour and make their way from site to site to see how some of the spaces that used to be unused, abandoned land have been transformed into productive spaces.

Karlos Marshall, president of The Conscious Connect, has researched the positive impact a walkable greenspace ecosystem has on the health and social well-being of communities. 

Marshall's research has been specific to the power of pocket parks and placemaking in Springfield's Southside. 

"It's taking these properties from being vacant to being vibrant and renewing a sense of pride in these communities with these spaces," Marshall says.

By creating a scene of essential greenspaces embedded in a neighborhood's fabric, he says, the spaces themselves build a sense of community. 

"Hopefully (South Side in Bloom) will get people to visit the Southside who typically wouldn't," Schlather says. "If you think about the southwest quadrant in Springfield, there's very little that people need to go there for to do their regular business - you have to go Downtown to go to the post office or for the courthouse.

"A lot of the bad reputation of the southwest quadrant is because people have never been there and don't know what it has to offer. If we can get people out there to look around and see, they can not only realize what it has to offer and change perceptions, but also lead people to get involved and build on the momentum to make a difference in the Southside."

Stops included along South Side in Bloom:
  • Auburn J. Tolliver Peace Garden, South Limestone Street and Prairie Avenue
  • Gammon House, 620 Piqua Place
  • Green Environmental Outreach Garden, 724 S. Plum St.
  • Hartman Rock Garden, 1905 Russell Ave.
  • Innisfallen Inspiration Garder, 1051 S. Yellow Springs St.
  • Jefferson Street Oasis, 1027 W. High St. 
  • Keep Clark County Beautiful Sunflower Field, 500 W. Grand Ave.
  • Melrose Acres Urban Agriculture Project, 1030 McCain Ave.
  • Promise Neighborhood Visioning Garden, 1217 Linden Ave.
  • Woodward Avenue Family Park - 1615 Woodward Ave.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.