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Urban Community Garden in Detroit

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Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  michigannaturalist on 3/7/2012, 12:44 pm

Hello everybody,
looking for information on starting an urban community garden in Detroit. Any advice/tips would be helpful. I am a Michigan teen and this is my first time doing this so I am just trying to sort through everything and figure out where I should start. Thanks!
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  jamesindetroit on 3/7/2012, 2:46 pm

Hello,

I am working a couple projects in Belleville and Romulus. I could always use a hand. Do you have The All New Square Foot Gardening book? Are you familiar with Square Foot Gardening?
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  Windsor.Parker on 3/7/2012, 3:13 pm

Hi michigannaturalist and to the forum.
I commend you for deciding to start a community garden. Don't try to "sort through everything and figure out where..." to start.
As jamesindetroit implies, the book, "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew, is an indispensable tool. Buy it or borrow it, but read it before going any further. You'll be glad you did!
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  Chopper on 3/7/2012, 4:04 pm

Victoria, CEO at the SFG Foundation (www.squarefootgardening.org), has started urban gardens herself. It might be worth contacting the foundation. I think it would be a wonderful idea to use this method to get the most bang for your buck out of an urban garden. Contact the foundation and see what they say.

I am also sure there is tons of info about urban gardens in general on the net of course, but stick with SFG for the final concept.

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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  CiderSapling on 3/8/2012, 12:58 am

Congratulations! A community garden is an awesome thing. I've spent the last year or so building one in my community - right next door to me, even! It's been difficult and rewarding. My neighbors have suprised me with their support and I've gotten to know some amazing people.

First, let me encourage you. This can be a difficult road. I feel like making it through the red tape of forming the garden is the hardest part. I'm in St. Louis, MO, where we have an organization that focuses on community gardening. They've been a wonderful resource for the red tape stuff. Take a look in Detroit and see if there's anything similar available to you. But after a lot of up and down in the process, I made it through. I stood out in our unimproved lot last week, just taking it all in and I couldn't stop grinning. Finally! Finally! It was ours! We moved in immediately. Smile

I don't have much space in our new garden, so we went with SFG for the soil mixes and planter bed design. But using SFG is a commitment and not everyone is excited about it. Talk to the people you'll be working with in the garden and see what they can and want to do. We're using a compromise where only the soil mix and bed design is SFG. Each individual gardener then chooses if they want to use Mel's planting recommendations. By using the soil mix we have an easily renewable soil mixture for years to come. This is important because it's impossible to plant directly into the ground on our spot (previously held a house that was demolished with a lot of debris left behind, VERY poor soil). As we're closer to planting, though, more of our gardeners are becoming educated about SFG and are planning on using it.

So, from the planning part of the community garden, think about these things:
1. Who will be involved with the garden? ... What kind of community are you looking to engage? Direct neighbors, low income folks, families, children? Different target groups can change things like the design, style, and location. For example: if you want to children you need to think about plants that are exciting for kids to grow with plenty of space for them to elbow about in - and who is going to be in charge of those kids.
2. Where can the garden be located? Here in St. Louis there's a central organization that manages all the city held property. They can lease out property for gardens so I had to go through they're requirements to get and sign a lease. Poke around and see what you can find out about using publically owned land. If there are empty lots nearby suitable for gardening, but are owned privately, you can consider approaching the owner for a private lease arrangement. If you're under 18, your parents will have to enter into any legal contract (I think).
3. How much space do we have to work with? The smaller the space the more likely people will want to use SFG. "Space luxury" seems to make people lazy. Wink
4. What kind of funding is available? You may find public grants out there to help with start up and development costs.
5. What is the purpose of the garden? Do you want people to be able to grow food for their families, for the purpose of selling, or both? Depending on the legal arrangement you make for the property, growing food for selling may be legal or not. Consider this question in terms of your fellow gardeners.

Finally, start being on the lookout for news and comments related to gardening. For example, a community garden here recently had to take down their bee hive because the city wouldn't insure the property with the hive in place. There's nothing to say that the hive is illegal or against regulations, but no insurance means no garden. To keep the garden they dismantled the hive. It was relevant to us, as a discussion about a hive was going on between our gardeners. Now, we're planting a butterfly garden along the perimter to help attract pollinators to the scene.

I know that's a lot of stuff! I've been taking notes on all of this for awhile - I tend towards forgetfulness when it comes to details so I take lots of notes.

I can tell you, above all else, standing out in our new garden last week was a wonderful feeling.
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  Windsor.Parker on 3/8/2012, 1:48 am

cidersapling,
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  boog1 on 3/8/2012, 11:48 am

find other garden CLUBS in town they might not do it the sfg way, but they might allready have the low down on some or most of the legal stuff, you will need to know. not to mention a seed sourse, for getting started. i know theres more than few i ran across on the net. when i tryed to look for ones here around jackson. good luck maybe in future i'll be over that way an stop an check it out

boog
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  Lindacol on 3/8/2012, 4:01 pm

@michigannaturalist wrote: Hello everybody,
looking for information on starting an urban community garden in Detroit. Any advice/tips would be helpful. I am a Michigan teen and this is my first time doing this so I am just trying to sort through everything and figure out where I should start. Thanks!

glad you\'re here Nice to see another teenager on the forum. I'm hoping Josh will comment here soon. He is an amazing 17 yr old SFG gardner from Illinois.

Do you have any gardening experience? Have you Have you read the All New Square Foot Gardening Book? Do you have a place for the garden?

Good luck.
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Re: Urban Community Garden in Detroit

Post  camprn on 3/8/2012, 5:25 pm

http://www.cskdetroit.org/EWG/ <~~~click Very Happy

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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