Urban Blooms is growing something beautiful in the heart of two Cincinnati neighborhoods. Last Friday, construction began on a 1,500-square-foot living wall at 4912 Reading Rd. in the Bond Hill business district. A similar project will begin in Corryville this fall.
Tyler Wolf, executive director of Urban Blooms, says the organization really wanted to connect its mission of sustainable green living to neighborhood development. The result is the Cincinnati Grows program, a $25,000 matching funds grant that gives neighborhoods the chance to apply for a living wall installation in their community.
Living walls are essentially a ‘wall of plants’ — a vertical hydroponic system with automated irrigation.
“It’s a great way to bring a natural aesthetic in any space,” Wolf says. “One of the big goals is to create more walkable communities.”
Seven neighborhoods applied for the installation but Corryville and Bond Hill were ultimately chosen. The walls in both neighborhoods will feature thousands of plants that will bring color to the neighborhood year-round.
“We wanted to make the largest impact possible,” Wolf says. Along with beautifying the space, the living walls have many other benefits for the community. They increase the biodiversity of urban areas by providing a safe haven for pollinators like butterflies and bees. The walls also create healthier environments for local residents.
“The walls are actually cleaning the air we breathe — they’re great at removing particulate matter from the air,” Wolf adds.
The living walls help keep the buildings they inhabit cooler, which reduces energy costs for the inhabitants. Brandon Gumm, a development associate with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says that’s great news for Bond Hill. “As we move businesses into Bond Hill, any cost saving measures we can provide are beneficial."
The living walls will also serve as educational opportunities for residents. “We want to open kids’ minds up to new possibilities and technologies,” says Wolf. “We see education going beyond any programming. We want to show that people don’t need to make sacrifices to live a more sustainable life.”
The living wall in Bond Hill will be unveiled at the inaugural Placemaker Pacer 5k Race and Fun Run on Aug. 26.