Oxford Community Garden Shares Successes of Inaugural Season

Oxford Community Garden Shares Successes of Inaugural Season

(Mark H. Stowers, Nov. 17, 2021)

Oxford, MI – More than 1,400 people enjoyed the harvest from the inaugural Oxford Community Garden this season. Oxford Township Communications and Grants Manager C.J. Carnacchio, noted the garden was a true community effort with a lot of hands in the soil throughout the 2021 growing and harvest season. Carnacchio wrote and applied for a $10,000 grant from the Four County Community Foundation based in Almont to get the garden started initially.

“In March, Parks and Rec came to me and they wanted to do a Community Garden,” he said. “To not only bring the community together but to help the food insecure families in our township.”

Once he received the grant, Parks and Rec got to work clearing the land and plowing the soil getting it ready for the gardeners to come along and continue the process. By late May, it was all planted and volunteers tended it through the growing season and into the harvest. Local businesses pitched in with gardening equipment and implements.

“Harvest Time Farm Market and Pet Stuff donated all the plants and herbs to get the garden going. Stone’s Ace Hardware in Oxford, Home Depot in Orion and Tractor Supply in Oxford donated various tools and supplies for the garden,” he said. “Parks and Rec put in a lot of time and we had a lot of community volunteers.

Between late May and early September, 45 volunteers spent a combined 198 hours working in the garden. Anytime they weren’t working, Parks and Rec were working in the garden. Dawn Medici, Recreational Specialist, was in that garden practically every day. Jeff Kinasz, Park Superintendent, was out there a lot and our other maintenance workers, Brian Durden and Miles Lawrence were all out there. One of the volunteers, Evan Karr, was part of the federal AmeriCorps Vista program and spent about 40 hours in the garden and did an additional 35 hours volunteering with the free meals program. He was an invaluable asset and is a student at UofM Flint. It was a community effort between volunteers and our Parks and Rec.”

The garden yielded a more than 2,284 pounds of vegetables and 64 pounds of herbs, all of which was donated to the Free Meals program based at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, Meals on Wheels, Hope Senior Apartments and cooking classes for seniors and youth. Two Parks and Recs cooking classes, Connie’s Kitchenz and Cooking with Kids, used some of the produce as well. The garden consisted of zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes (roma, beefsteak, grape, better boy), peppers (sweet banana, cubanelle, green and red bell peppers, jalapeno), cucumbers for burpless and pickling, Hubbard, butternut, spaghetti, straight neck and acorn squash, cauliflower, broccoli and bi-color sweet corn. Herbs were oregano, rosemary, common thyme, spearmint, French tarragon, dill, garlic, cilantro, curly parsley, dark green Italian parsley, chives and basil.

“With all the rain we had this summer, everything just took off. The bulk of the harvest was from July to August,” Carnacchio said. “Every Wednesday the free meal program distributes prepared meals and grocery items to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. There are no requirements, no one is turned away. Many of the recipients live in Oxford but residency is not an issue. Last year, some people brought excess vegetables out of the gardens and people liked that. Parks and Rec saw that and decided to put together the Community Garden.”

A greenhouse was added to help get seeds started for the next garden. In addition, apple trees were planted and should be bearing fruit in the next few years. Six Fuji apple trees were planted near the Oxford Community Garden in Seymour Lake Township Park. Eventually, the trees will add fresh fruit to the medley of vegetables and herbs produced by the garden. Grant money from the Four County Community Foundation was used to purchase these fruit-bearing trees.

“As they start to plan for next year, we’ll need more volunteers. If anyone wants to come work or donate anything or have any resources, please get a hold of myself (248.462.9997) or Dawn Medici (248.628.1720 ext. 101),” he said. “The garden is neighbors helping neighbors and its helping teach children how to serve your community and help your neighbor. People found what they were doing in the garden was very rewarding.

About the author

Oakland County Times has written 13967 articles for Oakland County Times

Contact editor@oc115.com for any questions or story ideas! Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or by chipping in through the PayPal button on the right side of the page.

Comments are closed.