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Ann Arbor, MN: Growing Hope Garden at West Middle School

  • Subject: [cg] Ann Arbor, MN: Growing Hope Garden at West Middle School
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 02 May 2005 13:37:58 -0400

Cultivating community 
Another Growing Hope garden sprouts at West Middle School 
Monday, May 02, 2005BY EMMA JACKSON 
News Staff Reporter 
hy is Kimberly Grover up to her cuticles in dirt when she admits gardening is not her forte? 
"I came because I'm hoping to learn about vegetable gardening and wanted to learn more about a community garden," Grover said. "I wish I had a green thumb; I guess this will be the test." 
Grover was one of several neighbors who showed up on a recent Saturday to cut out an 83-by-49-foot swatch of land behind West Middle School for a community garden. 
Amanda Edmonds, an Ypsilanti resident and executive director of Growing Hope, said the garden ground breaking came sooner than she had anticipated. 
"Growing Hope has been working with the school for over a year to develop a community garden partnership," said Edmonds, a wisp of a woman with the drive and energy of a John Deere tractor. 
"The Normal Park Neighborhood Association got real excited about the community garden at the senior center and said they needed more room," Edmonds said. "There was a clear show of interest and expansion was inevitable." 
One of the volunteer site coordinators, Jenna Bacolor, confirms that sentiment. 
"I'm thrilled to have a nice, sunny garden space within sight of my home," said Bacolor, who said everyone from loft apartment residents to school children have signed up for plots. "What I love about a community garden is seeing and enjoying my neighbors and meeting new people." 
So about a half-dozen pairs of hands measured, cut and rolled sod to make way for compost and eventually seeds. Kevin Webber and his family live nearby and he pitched in to jump-start the garden. 
"I wanted to support this community effort," Webber said while taking a brief break from operating the sod cutter. "I helped to get the plot started in Rec Park (Senior Center) and we'll have a plot here, too." 
The community garden at the Senior Center, planted in 2004, includes 17 plots. The project also incorporated Plant a Row for the Hungry and approximately 150 pounds of herbs and vegetables were donated at harvest time to Food Gatherers. The latest community garden will also include a Row for the Hungry and plot sizes will more than double for use by neighbors and children to plant, weed, water and harvest. 
Edmonds views the garden on the southwest side of the middle school as another link in Growing Hope's food chain. 
"There are three levels: individual, group and community leverage," Edmonds said. "This idea is growing by leaps and bounds." 
Ypsilanti's Roots and Shoots Youth Program is one of the ways Growing Hope engages people on an individual level, teaching nutrition, leadership and entrepreneurial skills to young people who grow their own produce at a garden site in Depot Town. 
Schools and neighborhood associations comprise the group level of Growing Hope's gardening objective. 
Lastly, there is the larger, community component. 
"The idea is to leverage resources to share and network countywide," Edmonds said pointing to the Plant a Row for the Hungry program as a successful networking effort. 
Teachers at West Middle School also are looking forward to participating in the on-site garden. Teacher consultant Jill Cohen said the garden has cultivated student interest. 
"The garden is the type of project that we couldn't do alone, and there have been valuable contributions from the community that we appreciate," said Cohen. "I think it's fabulous that the school will be used by the community. That's the way it should be." 
Bacolor said plots are still available. To reserve a space, visit Web site www.normalpark.org or call (734) 483-1647. 
Emma Jackson can be reached at (734) 482-4685 or ejackson@annarbornews.com. 

) 2005 Ann Arbor News. Used with permission

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