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For more information, to schedule a tour or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please visit the Ohio City Farm website.

Get a PDF version of the Roasted Beet Salad to share.

To find a MetroHealth provider for you or anyone in your family, visit the physician directory or call 216-778-7800. 

Are you already a MetroHealth patient? Schedule your appointment online.

Are you thinking of planting a garden this spring but don’t know where to begin? Getting that green thumb may be easier than you think.

“Having a garden at your fingertips can help to boost your fruit and vegetable intake, contributing to your overall health,” says Patrick Kearns, executive director of Refugee Response, who works with Ohio City Farm to ensure refugees have ready access to fresh produce. Ohio City Farm is one of the largest urban farms in the country, providing healthy, local food to Cleveland’s underserved residents while also educating the community. It’s located right down the street from MetroHealth Medical Center’s main campus.

Start-up Tips

To help you get started on your own garden, Michael Bartunek, senior farm manager at Ohio City Farm, has some tips:

Evaluate your space: Do you only have a patio? A container garden is likely the best choice. Do you have a yard? Raised garden beds or planting directly into the ground are options. “You also want to make sure the area gets at least six hours of direct sunlight during the growing season,” says Bartunek.

Think about soil: If you’re going to plant in containers or raised beds, purchase soil at a local gardening center. If you plant directly into your yard, you need to get your soil tested to make sure it’s fertile and doesn’t contain heavy metals such as lead. The Ohio State University Extension provides soil-testing services, as do some local companies.

Write down your goals: Focus on the foods your family enjoys and plan accordingly. If you’re expecting an extra-large crop, look into canning or freezing to make sure you’re not putting in all that time and effort to let food go to waste. Some plants require more work than others. For example, heirloom tomatoes can rot before they ripen and can attract bugs if you don’t carefully tend to them.

Order a free seed catalog: A good catalog provides a lot of information about the varieties of plants available and how to plant them. “Always plant according to the instructions,” says Bartunek. Most crops need to mature in six inches of soil.

Consider transplants: Some plants are more easily grown from transplants, or young plants, than from seeds.

Water regularly: Most plants need about an inch of water a week, although this can vary. To avoid afternoon heat and to reduce evaporation, water in the early morning or evening.

Grow from seeds:

  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuces like Bibb and romaine
  • Baby greens like kale and spinach
  • Beets
  • Peas

Grow from transplants:

  • Bell peppers
  • Hot peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash (which can also be easily planted as seeds)
  • Onions


Q: What if I only have the space for an indoor garden? 
A: Try herbs. Plant basil, chives, thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano and marjoram in a south-facing window to add freshness to your spring meals. You can pick up starter plants at your local nursery.

Roasted Beet Salad

To fully enjoy your garden, eat up! Bartunek makes this easy salad at home with his family.

6 beets with the tops removed
1/2 pound of baby spring greens
4 carrots, shredded
6 radishes, sliced
½ cup olive oil, plus 2 tbs divided
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry all produce. Beets may require a little extra scrubbing.

In a large bowl, toss salad greens with shredded carrots and sliced radishes.

In a small bowl, slowly pour ½ cup olive oil into vinegar while whisking to create vinaigrette dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

On a baking tray covered with a sheet of aluminum foil, toss the beets with 2 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper. Fold the aluminum foil around the beets, covering them, and place the baking sheet in the oven. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove beets from the oven. Once cool, remove the skins and slice beets into quarters.

Top the salad with roasted beets and dress with balsamic vinaigrette. Dig in!

More About Ohio City Farm

If you don’t have the gardening bug but want access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Ohio City Farm offers 20-week community-supported agriculture subscriptions. For more information, to schedule a tour or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please visit the Ohio City Farm website.