Cincinnati Zoo and Community Partners Put Final Touches on Rockdale Academy Urban Learning Garden

Posted July 29, 2021

One of six sites of the 2021 Avondale Community Makeover

Rockdale site two years ago!

The Cincinnati Reds, P&G, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden join forces each year to transform communities.  This year, that community is Avondale. The 2021 Community Makeover  service project has been months in the making but culminates today when more than 300 volunteers put the finishing touches on six project sites in the Cincinnati neighborhood.

Video of Rockdale Project Makeover | Photos

“The goal of the annual Community Makeover is to renovate a neighborhood to improve youth baseball and softball programs and make a significant impact on the community and its residents,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard.  “We are thrilled that efforts this year will improve lives in our own backyard.”

Rockdale Urban Learning Garden
Rockdale site today!

A signature element of the 2021 Makeover is the one-acre “Urban Learning Garden” and outdoor classroom at Rockdale Academy, designed by the Zoo’s expert horticulture staff.  The garden will include vegetables, fruiting trees, herbs, flowers, native plants, and plants known to attract pollinators.  It will be a living classroom that will nourish, educate, and inspire students at Rockdale through horticulture, science, and the outdoors.

“The garden will be planted and ready for the ribbon cutting later today, but our commitment to this project will not end,” said Maynard.  “We, along with Rockdale Academy staff and the Avondale Community Council, are fully committed to using our networks and creative resources to ensure that this learning landscape lasts and is sustainable.”

In addition to adding hundreds of plants to the Rockdale garden, partners and volunteers are working hard to complete the following elements of the Community Makeover by the end of today:

  • Rockdale Academy: Install solar panels, greenhouse, and garden; Interior renovation for new community room; new books and school supplies for each student.
  • South Avondale Elementary School: New synthetic turf football/soccer field in conjunction with FC Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bengals and the ABC (Activities Beyond the Classroom) Foundation. Indoor renovations and outdoor playground enhancements; new books and school supplies for each student.
  • Taft Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati: Improve facilities and resources for the after-school program.
  • Rockdale/Harvey Ballfield and Park: Ballfield renovations, new playground and basketball court, new mural featuring the Tuskegee Airman designed by artist Brent Billingsley.
  • Blair Ball Fields: Ballfield renovation; upgraded tennis, pickleball and basketball court along with other park amenities.
  • Larona Park/Avondale Beautification: Install shelter and add walking trail at Larona Park; plant trees and remove honeysuckle throughout Avondale.

Project partners include Cincinnati Public Schools, OneSource Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Cincinnati ToolBank, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati and the City of Cincinnati.