How to Take Part in Hazel Park’s Marigold Project
(Lara Mossa, June 6, 2020)
HAZEL PARK – Come fall, hundreds of orange marigolds will brighten a vacant lot in downtown Hazel Park. Two local businesses and the West End Hazel Park Business Coalition have sponsored a community-wide project that will culminate in a unique art piece.
“As (Coronavirus) started really wearing on people, the joy of planting flowers and getting out and about and doing something started taking precedence,” said Richard Gage, owner of Hazel Park-based Richard Gage Design Studio. “Everybody is talking about planting…It kind of evolved from the vision of using marigolds to build a sculpture, a mural.”
That’s why Gage and Ginny Martin, the owner of Detroit-based anhelo anhelo, teamed with the West End Hazel Park Business Coalition to start the Marigold Project. Gage, who is a member of the coalition that serves businesses along Nine Mile Road, started discussing the idea in March when Coronavirus started taking its hold. The vision is to unveil the art piece at a special event in October.
Local residents can register on two different websites to receive free marigold seeds. Each person gets one packet that should contain enough for a small residential garden. They are encouraged to plant the flowers and, then, in the fall when they bloom, they will be transplanted into a 3,000-square-foot vacant lot along Nine Mile Road.
“What I like about the Marigold Project is that it offers participants the pride of ownership in the process,” Martin said. “It will be an artwork built through slow-media, accessible to a large community.”
West End Hazel Park Business Coalition paid for five pounds of seeds and, so far, 25 people have signed up for packets. Gage is a major funder and Martin will be doing promotional work and help design the mural. Anhelo anhelo, which means “longing longing” in Spanish, is a business that offers consulting and production assistance to artists. Richard Gage Design Studio does architectural fabrication ranging from sculptures to decorative building components.
Students and faculty at Jardon Vocational School in Hazel Park also will be involved by planting flowers in their greenhouse. The project has extended to other communities as well since Gage is welcoming residents from surrounding communities to participate.
The reason Gage and Martin chose marigolds is because of their growing season but also because of their significance. In Mexico, it is customary to use them in fall celebrations, Martin explained, adding that she has spent a lot of time there. They are supposed to be a hardy flower too, Gage said, and can be planted into early June.
The hope is to provide some camaraderie among the community during a time when the Coronavirus has disrupted people’s lives.
“We will have an event at the end of all this to pull everyone together, but it’s really about the moment of connectiveness since we are so disconnected from (Coronavirus,)” Gage said.
To register for seeds, go to the websites www.westendhazelpark.com or www.anheloanhelo.com.