Waterloo Artist Inspires a New Generation of Veggie Lovers

On Saturday, October 8th guests gathered outside the Memorial Nottingham Library in Collinwood to celebrate the launch of Operation: Vegetables! A giant board game of yummy health. Temps in the low 70º’s and a perfect fall breeze set the tone for day of community fun, and the day’s mission was as clear as the blue skies above: teach Cleveland kids how to enjoy a rainbow of food.

veggie-gardenTables were laden with healthy foods and beverages, and families picked rainbow chard and basil from the new Children’s Vegetable Garden Box painted by Ballot Box Grantee, Linda Zolten Wood, featuring the game’s veggie superheroes. The artist also notes, “The garden box will still have lots of fresh basil available for another few weeks. Please come by and pick some for your pizza or salad!”

The sixty guests who attended included regular library attendees, staff and grant supporters, but it was the neighborhood’s littlest residents who turned out to play! Twenty children divided into teams and rolled the veggie dice, skipping across the life-sized game board in the dappled shade next to the garden.

veggie-playersThe brightly colored player pennant vests were custom made by Waterloo merchant Dru Christine Fabric and Design, and more are ready for the next game release at Grovewood Salvation Army’s Grand Opening in November, for permanent play.

A beautifully painted Splice Cream Truck was in the parking lot under the trees, helmed by Ballot Box Grantee, Ben Smith, whose recordings of Collinwood Family Histories will be mixed and posted on his website, and possibly pressed as vinyl records.

Live acoustic guitar spiraled in the shade by Linda’s husband, Doug Wood, of Cellocentric. Ballot Box Grantee, Photographer Stephen Bivens captured the event and hands-on veggie crafts were offered by Brittainy Lee Quinn of Collinwood Friends Garden and her students from Cleveland School of the Arts.

The garden and game were surrounded by delicious dishes, music and chatting, laughing families.

• Chef Kayla Palmisano of Collinwood Friends Garden created fresh orange, cranberry and honey sorbet, topped with your choice of fresh cut pineapple, strawberries, peaches and apples.

• Local Chef Kimberly Homan constructed a broccoli forest with cauliflower sheep diorama, and served zucchini pesto spiral noodles and zucchini coconut brownie bites.

• Healthier Puerto Rican chicken & vegetable empanadas and veggie red rice by Ramona Pacheco.

• Raspberry-mint and honey sun tea was provided by neighborhood artist Michele Biondo.


Linda’s mission to bring the joy of healthy eating into more Cleveland neighborhoods is growing quickly, but she still needs your help! We know that kids who are exposed early and often to a diverse range of food tastes and experiences are more likely to make healthy choices as they grow. I’d love to see a version of this game in every classroom or school cafeteria!

You can support the next phase of this ambitious project by visiting the Operation Vegetables ioby page and making a donation, or sharing the campaign on your social media page until November 18th. Your tax-deductible donations will be eligible for a matching grant through Cleveland Climate Action Fund to create more painted gardens and games with children creating characters.

Reserve the game for FREE group play at Memorial Nottingham Library, 17109 Lakeshore Blvd, Cleveland, 44110.
It’s available ANY time the circular meeting room is available: Contact Children’s Librarian, Libby Hampton at 216 623-7039. You can bring your scout troop or a class of students to experience a first-class veggie adventure. Recommended for 6 players at a time with 2 player support team (especially for non-readers) to keep track of dice & action cards – Indoor play only.  Recommended Ages 5-12. Adult supervision is required

This Project was created by Linda Zolten Wood & is supported by:
ArtPlace America, Northeast Shores Development Corporation, and Ward 8 residents age 14 & up through The Ballot Box Project.

The 8×8 foot Grovewood Salvation Army game and 4×4 foot tabletop version at Collinwood Branch Library on E. 152nd Street game are being printed on vinyl by ImageMart Inc. in Collinwood, on St. Clair. Action cards were hand-painted, and laminated for durability.Reserve these games with SAL’s Learning Zone director, Margaret Craig at (216) 692-1388 and Children’s Librarian, Adam Tully, at E152 Library (216) 623-6934.

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