Planting the Seeds of Partnership

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​We're always looking for ways to be good neighbors, especially when that helps us become a greener agency in the process. That's why we're so excited about our next project. We're partnering with Praxis Fiber Workshop and Hannah Gibbons-Nottingham Elementary School to create three new gardens on property at our Headquarters.

Praxis turns unused lots across the city into indigo gardens. Indigo is the oldest known natural dye. Artists love it because of its rich, deep blue hue and color-fast permanence. It's most well-known as a dye for denim. Praxis uses its indigo gardens to create sustainable, productive ways to give back to the community.  

Indigo can also serve as an important educational opportunity. The first seeds were brought to the United States from Africa during slavery and it quickly became one of the first plantation cash crops. Although most Americans own a piece of denim in their wardrobe, most don't know its origin and connection to slavery in our country. Because they work in neighborhoods whose populations are majority African American, it is important to Praxis to reclaim the discussion around indigo and its use. It is also important to promote a safe, socially inclusive, and equality driven, farming practice for a crop that was historically discriminatory and dangerous.

These business and educational goals will come together in the new gardens at Hospice of the Western Reserve. We're planting and maintaining the indigo in partnership with students from our neighbors at Hannah Gibbons-Nottingham Elementary School. The kids will get to learn not only about how to plant, grow and care for the indigo, they'll also learn about its history and how it becomes a piece of a wider business after it's harvested.

We're pleased that Praxis could use part of our property to engage the community. This is a great use of our space, particularly the lot to the east of the HQ driveway we originally acquired from the Cleveland Land Bank.

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Taking Root

More than 20 students helped us transform the formerly empty lot. Kids who were at first worried about getting muddy knees and running into bugs ended up needing to be coerced out of the garden and back into school. Praxis Executive Director Jessica Pinsky and her team showed students how to plant indigo and did a demonstration of its end use as a dye before turning them loose in the garden.

Once they got started, there was almost no stopping the HG students. The HWR team dug rows in the plot, installed drip watering lines and laid in organic blood meal fertilizer. The students followed up the prep work by filling in the indigo plants. We had scheduled the planting to take almost all day, but, in the end, the kids planted hundreds of indigo seedlings in just under 90 minutes.

This was just the first step. Next, the plants will grow and mature before the first harvest in late July. From there, Praxis will dry and ferment the harvested leaves to create the intensely blue dye.

We're so grateful to see this collaboration literally growing right in our front yard.

We Can Help

Speak with the referral team by contacting us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Any first visit and admission can be made the first day.

Northern Ohio's Hospice of Choice

More than 1,000 Hospice of the Western Reserve employees and 3,000 volunteers live and work side-by-side in the same neighborhoods with our patients and families. We are privileged to have cared for more than 100,000 Northern Ohioans since our inception.