Community Garden Friends providing a bounty of vegetables to local organizations
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A well, a sprinkler system, tools, and volunteers of all ages have truly put the community into the Community Garden Friends.
The Community Garden Friends was started in 2009 by a group of volunteers led by Barb Selesky.
The property for the garden, located at the corner of Madsen and Mary Ann Streets, is owned by Carl W. Borchers Post Veterans of Foreign Wars #3736.
The veteran’s organization cut down some trees and prepared the land for the garden.
It was led by other leaders for several years, but the garden laid dormant in 2016 and 2017.
Rain barrels were filled by Grayling Fire Department and Camp Grayling Fire Department and people who had plots in the garden carried water in one-gallon jugs to water their plants.
“That was the biggest barriers, it getting water,” said Alice Snyder, the director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Grayling Senior Center.
Last year, District Health Department #10 provided a grant to pay for a well and sprinkling system to be installed on the property.
Labor and services were donated by Jim’s Well Drilling to install the well and site preparation and work was supplied at no cost by Jack Millikin, Inc. Milan Supply donated the piping for the sprinkling system.
A Great Lakes Energy People Fund grant paid for the installation of lighting, a sidewalk, and a parking area.
The Crawford County Michigan State University Extension awarded a $500 grant to the organization for garden tools.
While some people have planted individual plots in the garden, the focus this year has been placed on providing vegetables to individuals and community organizations in Grayling.
In the spring, three classes from the Grayling Elementary School helped plant seeds and starter plants in the garden.
Young men from the Shawono Center have come in to help weed, maintain the garden, and harvest vegetables.
“They’ve been a huge part of this success,” said Greg Nelson, the lead volunteer for the Community Garden Friends.
To date, 500 pounds of vegetables have been harvested from the garden. The harvest would have been more, but deer have come to munch on the green beans.
“Those beans were just rocking,” Nelson said.
Mark Snyder has volunteered his time and labor to repair the fencing to make the garden more secure.
Vegetables from the garden are being provided to the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, Crawford County Commission on Aging, River House, Inc., and the free Monday night dinners served at the Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church.
“My vision is to grow for the community,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he would like to see more individuals plant plots in the gardens to spread the benefits of healthy nutrition.
“When someone grows one of these plots, you’re going to grow enough for yourself and three of your neighbors in that little area,” Nelson said.
Linda Jensen planned on having a plot in the garden, but instead chose to volunteer to maintain the larger plots to provide produce to community organizations.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I love being out here.”
Jensen has also planted flowers in the garden to help draw in bees to help pollinate the plants and to brighten the day for residents in area assisted living facilities and those who dine at community organizations.
Molly Francis, who recently retired to northern Michigan, earned her Master Gardener certificate through the Michigan State University Extension in Traverse City. She completed her courses just in time for the gardening season, and a volunteer commitment is required as part of the program.
“I would say everybody should garden,” Francis said. “It should be a requirement in every classroom in the United States. It’s such a wonderful thing to learn to grow your own food.”
Nelson concurred with that opinion.
“Instead of military service, make everybody garden,” Nelson said. “The world would be a lot better place.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, having a plot, or making a donation toward the community garden can call (989) 348-7123.
“It’s been a long time coming to try to get it going,” Alice Snyder said. “We made huge strides the last year and this year.”