A History of Green at TMA

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The building of bird houses was one of the first TMA community art projects.

The building of bird houses was one of the first TMA community art projects.

In 1914, the Museum sponsored its first City Beautiful Campaign that challenged adults and children to transform Toledo into a garden city by planting flower and vegetable gardens. A horticulturist lectured on plants, soils and beautifying vacant lots to 30,000 people. A local merchant donated gardening equipment, and more than 200,000 flower and vegetable seed packets were distributed at a penny apiece. At the end of the campaign, 255 prizes were awarded to Toledo’s best gardeners, and the Museum held a flower and vegetable exhibition in its galleries.

That same year, the Bird Campaign was launched. After spending the winter learning about birds at the Museum, children built more than 3,000 birdhouses that were first put on exhibition, then placed in public parks to attract birds. The Bird Campaign resulted in the founding of the Museum’s Bird Club, and within a few years the club expanded its conservation interests and was renamed the Bird and Tree Club. By 1921, 20,000 children were members.

In 2009, the Museum formed an agreement with Toledo Grows, the community gardening outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden. TMA and other partners expanded the Museum Place community garden managed by Glenwood Lutheran Church. A second garden partnership at Harvest Time Holiness Church is also underway at the TMA grounds off Woodruff and Monroe. At both locations, young gardeners and community members take responsibility for growing and harvesting vegetables, herbs, flowers, and native plants.