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Community Gardens Different in their own Unique Ways, Part I

By Paul Rodman (paulgrowNovember 26, 2007

Community gardens come in all shapes and sizes. They each serve their own purpose and they each have their own personality. I want to show you a few of my favorites in this series.

Gardening picture

The Goodwill Garden in Taylor, Michigan has to be one of my all time favorite community gardens. Located in a large city park, this garden has evolved into a huge success in just a few short years. Produce raised in the community garden is donated to area food pantries to help feed the disadvantaged. During the 2007 growing season just completed, the Goodwill Garden donated over 1100 pounds of high quality fresh vegetables to area food pantries.

This garden really has 2 parts.

Part One
Conceived several years ago by District Court Judge Geno Salmone as a way to get non violent offenders to provide a useful service to the community.

Welcome to the Goodwill Garden

The image


Persons convicted of non violent offences are sentenced to provide a certain number of community service hours to this community garden. Under the guidance of Master Gardener and other volunteers the offenders prepare beds, maintain walkways and plant seeds and plants in the vegetable garden. They weed, water and generally tend to the garden during the growing season. Many of these offenders have no previous gardening experience; so this becomes a learning experience for them also.

You can tell the pride these folks take in their work, the well tended beds and the immaculate walkways are examples for all to strive for.

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Many of the offenders who have completed their sentences have continued to volunteer at the garden and have acquired a real love of growing things and helping other people.

Part Two

After the first couple years of existence Judge Salome and the other volunteers decided to utilize the excess space and developed garden plots to rent to area residents. Many who live in condos, apartments or have home with small yards need someplace to grow things and the Goodwill Garden gives them a place to do this.

The image

Beans on a Trellis

For a small fee residents can rent a plot for their own personal gardens. They can grow whatever they wish be it flowers, vegetables or both. At the beginning of the growing season the plots are roto-tilled and turned over to the residents. From that point on it’s the resident’s responsibility to maintain their plots throughout the summer. They erect various type of fencing to keep the “critters” out and install different types of garden art in their plots.

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Water is provided by the city from faucets and hoses located throughout the garden.

This garden is not just strictly for working, a nice sitting area in the shade has been established to take a break or just to do some socializing. Community barbeques are not an uncommon event in the garden.

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Let's take a Break Gardening is hard Work

By the way the Goodwill Garden is organic, Integrated Pest Management is practiced.



  About Paul Rodman  
Paul RodmanPaul Rodman has been gardening for over 45 years. He is an Advanced Master Gardener, and American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian. He is President Emertius of the Western Wayne County Master Gardener Association in Wayne County, Michigan. He currently serves as the greenhouse chairman of this group. Rodman has amassed over 5500 volunteer hours in the Master Gardener program. Rodman is the garden columnist for The News Herald newspaper, in Southgate, Michigan. He has also written for the Organic web site. He is a certified Master Canner and has taught classes on Home Food Preserving for 7 years. He has lectured on various gardening topics throughout southeastern Michigan. His favorite pastime is teaching children about gardening. For the past several years he has conducted classes for second grade students teaching them about subjects ranging from vermi-composting to propagation.

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