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Ginger's impressive inner-city garden is so close to Downtown Cincinnati, you can see the Carew Tower. / Image: Phil Armstrong, Cincinnati Refined // Published: 6.28.18
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If There's An Award For ‘Best Inner-City Garden,’ Ginger Dawson’s Should Win

It all started with an email.

"Ginger is a 25-year resident of Covington's Mutter Gottes neighborhood and has created the most incredible urban garden I have ever seen," local realtor Annie Venerable proudly proclaimed.

Alright, that sounds interesting! But wait, who is Ginger?

Her full name is Ginger Dawson and, in Annie's own words, she's "one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met." After meeting with her for a couple of hours on a hot, sunny afternoon in her neighborhood, I'll gladly echo Annie's sentiment.

APPLES, THE BIG APPLE, AND BACK

Ginger grew up on her family's farm in central Ohio. A seventh-generation farmer, she learned the science of agriculture and helped carry on her family's tradition until deciding to head to design school in New York City.

There, she learned how to navigate life in 1980s NYC. But she wouldn't stay; Ginger sought something between farm life and inner-city life. She returned to the Midwest and landed in Covington in the late-'80s.

She worked in restaurants and bars. She dabbled in real estate. Many know her from the eclectic gift shop, God Save the Queen, she opened in Covington and moved to Vine Street in Downtown Cincinnati in the mid-'90s. Even more know her for the Duck Creek Antique Mall she bought in 2005 and closed three years ago.

Throughout her years of entrepreneurial endeavors, however, she held fast to her roots, both figuratively and literally. Ginger was still farming, but not back home in central Ohio. Instead, she built a garden in her backyard in Covington.

MUTTER'S GARTEN

It started small and grew over the years into a gigantic (for the inner-city) collection of herbs, peppers, beans, and other assorted vegetables. Ginger's entrepreneurial spirit melded with her passion for growing, leading to a substantial private garden.

Over 25 years, Ginger—a self-described "feckless sort"—has learned how to properly grow all kinds of vegetables in a very public forum. She runs a blog called The Intrepid Farmer which chronicles her gardening successes and failures.

"Carrots. I have finally figured out carrots," a post from last year begins.

Another from 2014 talks about her love of trying to grow zucchini and being foiled by "the reviled squash vine borer," a moth with an insatiable appetite. Four years later, she rejoices in her discovery of tromboncino squash, a type of zucchini the moths ignore.

Her transparency about all of it endears her to the reader. And while the blog features a hefty amount of technical gardening language, it's filled in equal measure with relatable content for the layman. It's one of the best things about what she does.

But perhaps the best thing about the garden isn't necessarily what's in it, but rather what it represents. Ginger Dawson's backyard garden is proof that farm life can have a very real, practical role within an urban environment, and a person can enjoy the fruits of both enriching lifestyles without sacrifice.

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Scroll to the top to see Ginger's garden, and check out her blog for more information.

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