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Groups team up to revitalize a Toronto community garden

A VARIETY OF ART — The community garden organized by the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization has been decorated by about a dozen paintings produced by students at Toronto High School. They are among a handful of groups working with the coalition to revitalize the garden at North Fourth and Clark streets. -- Contributed

TORONTO — The community garden established by the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization is receiving a facelift, thanks to the efforts of a handful of groups.

George Komar, the group’s president, said DeNoon Lumber and 84 Lumber have provided lumber and other materials for 10 new planters at the garden, which is at the corner of North Fourth and Clark streets.

He added members of the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters agreed to build them, while students at Toronto High School have produced new paintings used for decoration

Amanda Speece, art teacher at the school, recruited the following students for the project: Leah Gibson, Shayne Connor, Shaun Kuchan, Taylor Hill, Alaina Ensminger, Camee Allen, Monique Sloane, Michael Mikula, Donnie Swick, Mayley Board, Ryley Burch, Zierra McElwain and Emma Blair.

The paintings feature creatures from nature and characters from classic cartoons and “Star Wars,” the latter inspired by the love of the space fantasy by 8-year-old Noah Long.

Long, who died of cancer in 2014, inspired the wall-length mural overlooking the garden.

Komar said individuals or groups use the planters at no cost provided they sign an agreement stating they will regularly maintain them, using no insecticides, weed-killer or toxic agents, and aid with cleanup at the end of the season.

He said the Jefferson County Health Department has expressed interest in providing materials to residents interested in teaching gardening to their children there.

Those interested may call Komar at (740) 317-3947 for information.

In addition to the handful of new benefactors, Komar expressed thanks to city officials for their support of the garden through the years.

“Without the city, the garden would not be,” he said.

Komar noted art has been a big part of the coalition’s efforts to attract people to the city.

He said now that warm weather has arrived, local artist Doug Griffith will soon resume work on a mural celebrating various aspects of Toronto.

The mural can be found on a 12-foot-by-40-foot wall of the Special Way building on North Fourth Street.

Komar said he’s seeking other businesses with space available for what he describes as interactive murals because they are designed to allow spectators to step into them for a photo.

Concepts for them range from angel wings with just space for a person to stand between them to cast an angelic pose, to a set of balloons the individual can pretend to grasp.

Komar said the person “in the mural” may then post the image on social media while hopefully, noting the location where it was taken and drawing attention to the city.

Businesses interested in accommodating such a mural should call Komar at the above number.

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