Building community through gardening

Urban Seed pic 2Gardens can be as diverse and creative as you are. Some people plant rain gardens to help filter stormwater runoff. Other gardens are planted to benefit specific wildlife, such as butterflies or bees. Many gardens are simply pretty to look at. One of my favorite ways to garden is at my community garden.

Community gardens are typically fruit and vegetable gardens, and they serve a variety of purposes, such as promoting community spirit, educating the community about gardening, encouraging food security and providing a green space in an urban environment. Each one works differently, but in general, a community garden is land open to the public and cultivated by a community of people.

Urban Seed pic 3Urban Seed’s Eastpointe Community Garden, 16425 9 Mile Road, offers several different gardening opportunities. For $40, I rent a 4-by-4-foot, 12-inch-deep raised bed (only $30 for 6-inch deep). I now have extra gardening space, and the deep bed is perfect for growing root vegetables like carrots and beets. Everything I plant, I maintain myself and harvest when ready.

Gardeners also have the option to donate seeds and plants and to tend to the 20-bed giving garden. The harvested vegetables are donated to local food banks, churches and senior citizen apartments. There is also availability for a company or person to sponsor one of these beds.

Whenever food is harvested at the garden, patrons are asked to weigh and record their bounty as a way to track the garden’s progress, and the information can be used to apply for grants and donations.

Urban Seed pic 1As the garden has developed over the past six years, improvements have been made, such as convenient rain barrels, water lines and spigots, and a garden shed built as an Eagle Scout project. When taking my daughter to the garden, I appreciate other amenities like the Free Little Library, sitting areas, picnic table and butterfly garden.

The garden is an asset to Eastpointe, and in return, it has received great support from the community. Water access was donated by JJ Mich; the Watermelon Man sculpture, shed and tools were donated by Iron Ivy; grants have been received from Eastpointe Rotary and MSU Extension; and residents and business have donated potting benches, soil, lumber, rain barrels, a wheelbarrow and much more.

One thing all community gardens have in common is a need for volunteers. Beyond tending to the beds, maintaining the entire property is a huge task. By volunteering time weekly, you can meet other gardening aficionados and help beautify a green space in your community. Those who want to rent a bed or volunteer at Urban Seed’s Eastpointe Community Garden should come to the garden any Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Starting in June, volunteers will also meet on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information on Urban Seed’s Eastpointe Community Garden, visit them on Facebook.

Community gardens are popping up all over Macomb County. Here are just a few others:
Center Line – Dale Street (east of Van Dyke)
Clinton Township – St. Luke Church, 21400 S. Nunnely
Clinton Township – St. Peter, St. Hubert, St. Thecla Charity Garden, 43785 N. Gratiot Avenue (behind Kingsborough Castle)
Fraser – Fraser Woods Retirement Center, 17195 Fraser Woods Drive
Warren – Faith Harvest Church, 30200 Schoenherr

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, often providing content for the Make Macomb Your Home website.

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