Sowing the Seeds of Community in the New Ferndale Good Neighbors Garden Spot

essentialTOPtemphelaine-zack-candidate-ad-topSowing the Seeds of Community in the New Ferndale Good Neighbors Garden Spot

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 23, 2016)Chazzano02

Ferndale, MI –  For years a patch of land at Ferndale’s Martin Road Park formed just an odd sea of grass between neighbors’ back yards and the parking lot of the Detroit Curling Club.  But now this underutilized spot has come alive as the new home for the Good Neighbor’s Garden.

Participants in the Ferndale Good Neighbors’ Garden celebrated their first harvest at their new home earlier this month, sharing their bounty of veggies with visitors at the Hilton Fall Festival and encouraging others to join.  This was their first season at Martin Road Park, and while it was a busy one of moving and building, the work paid off in the end.

The co-op style community garden had been located at Jefferson School in Oak Park, which has been sold by the Ferndale School District.  After at least seven years of community harvests, the move come with both sadness and optimism for the members who felt uprooted by the experience.

Because oc115_leavesadMartin Road Park is in what used to be low-lying swampland, the group of about 25 active gardeners had to build raised beds.  They also needed a fence, and a rainwater retention system for watering.

It’s still a work in progress but the main beds have been constructed, planted, tended to, and have begun bearing the fruits of their labor.  Green beans, pepper, tomatoes, basil, green beans, and kale all have their place in the bounty.

Rachel Murray is among the organizers of the Good Neighbors Garden.  “A lot of people have been curious, wanting to know what we’re doing over here,” she said.

“The other day these kids were playing Pokemon on the sidewalk and I invited them in to try things.  The kids were about 12 and 8 and they kept playing on their phone.  But later the older one came back.  He said he caught a “weedle,” and he wanted to check out the garden. I showed him around abuxbaum-adnd he picked a little pepper to take home with him.  I invited him to come back with his parents and volunteer or get a plot.”

There are 20 individual plots that are 20 x 40, as well as several community beds that members chip in to keep watered and weeded through the season to share in the results.

There’s even a bed specifically for the kids, sponsored by Modern Natural Baby, with easy to grow veggies even toddlers can dig right into as they help and learn.

For John Feeney the time spent at the garden is not just about growing cabbage and kale, it’s about growing the sense of community that Ferndale has a reputation for.

“The key thing is being able to work with other people,” Feeney said.  “I knew about local gardens Jacks Adcoming up in Detroit and saw what that can do to bring people together. It is do-able.”

He stressed that the group also does as much as possible to avoid waste.  They have a compost bin onsite that gets emptied by SOCRRA to be made into compost at their facility.  The fence was brought over from the old location and wood was reclaimed when possible.

The group also was able to get special pricing from Durst Lumber for the wood needed for the planter boxes. Plants for the community boxes were donated by Cinzori Farm. GNG collects fees for being a member and for having a plot, but has expenses such as insurance and the need to build a permanent fence and get signage. The move was also hard because some chose not to continue in the new spot.

She said the move had been hard, not just because of the work but because of the sentimental feelings, but she is optimistic.  “This may end up being a better spot. “We hope being here will mean more people will see the garden and want to join.”

Good Neighbors Garden is accepting new members and donations.Ferndale Schools AD_02

“In the upcoming year we will need to build a rainwater collection system, a shed to store tools, more raised beds, and a fence for wandering children and pets at the park. We are turning to the community with great hopes that you can help this amazing community resource blossom into its new location. Contributions of any amount are greatly appreciated,” Murray said.

For more information about the Good Neighbors Garden go to http://www.goodneighborsgarden.org/.  To donate go to https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/new-community-garden-in-ferndale-michigan.

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