Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

Home · Articles · News · Features · A Gargen Grows in TC
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A Gargen Grows in TC

Volunteers bring an old farm back to life within the city limits

Robert Downes - September 23rd, 2013  


More than 100 years ago, you would have seen hundreds of patients working the fields of the old Northern Michigan Asylum in Traverse City for both therapy and sustenance.

Today, that 125-year-old farm is a working enterprise once again, thanks to an informal group of volunteers who’ve resurrected the Community Gardens at the Grand Traverse Commons.

“We’ve got 30 full garden plots now and most are pretty active,” says gardener Mike Haynes, adding that many of these are divided into half-plots of 12 by 30 feet -- more than enough for a family garden. “I think we have about 40 gardeners here now.”

The Community Garden spreads out 100 yards or more in the field between the Grand Traverse Commons and Silver Lake Road. At the far end lies a working farm operated by SEEDS, which offers after-school and summer gardening programs.

Nearby, workmen are finishing the renovation of two massive brick cattle barns, as well as a new cultural center for TC’s Botanical Garden project. Eventually, the Botanical Garden will encompass 20 acres, with cultural offerings similar to that of Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.

Officially, this site is known as the Historic Barns Park, with sweeping plans to include concerts, dance recitals and educational events within the near future.

VOLUNTEERS TO THE RESCUE

But the more ramshackle, folksy Community Gardens packs just as much passion in the zeal of its volunteers, and it’s truly a ‘grass-roots’ effort. The allorganic, no-pesticide garden brims with greens, tomatoes, beans, corn, cukes, peppers, flowers, lettuce, collard greens, beets, carrots, chard… pretty much everything but squash due to a local problem with squash bugs.

Haynes notes that years ago, hundreds of cattle grazed in this field, enriching the soil with decades of manure. “As a result, this is really good soil for making things grow,” he says.

Haynes gained experience with student community gardens while attending the University of California-Davis.

“I always had a garden growing up and love fresh produce,” he says. “The thing I like about community gardens is that it’s people working cooperatively together.”

Early on, the former pasture was recognized as the ideal place for a community garden for all to share. The Little Artshram group established a small garden here and provided guidance for seven years prior to a tempest-in-a-teaspoon controversy about kids peeing in a bucket at a summer camp program for lack of toilet facilities.

With the garden project in disarray, a group of volunteers including Flint Horton, Luise Bolleber and Alex Campbell got together last year to get the Community Garden back on track.

“I’ve been here for four years now, raising food for my family,” says Campbell, who works for Bay Area Recycling and serves as president of the Community Garden. “I’ve got mostly beans and tomatoes in my plot now.”

A resident of the Grand Traverse Commons, Campbell learned gardening by volunteering on farms and working at CSAs (community supported agriculture).

FOOD RESCUE

He notes that one plot at the garden is dedicated solely to Food Rescue and has raised 150 lbs. of produce for local food pantries, which is loaded on a refrigerated truck every Wednesday.

That’s just a small part of the of the garden’s donation effort, however. Gary Harper, who serves as liaison to Food Rescue, says other gardeners also donate a portion of their crops. “Last year we donated just under 1,000 lbs. of food,” he says.

In terms of local real estate, you couldn’t ask for a better deal to get involved. A fee of $60 is charged for a full plot, with $30 for a half plot. The rest of it consists in your investment in elbow grease, tilling the soil, planting the crops and rooting out weeds.

Currently, volunteers are trying to get the word out on Community Gardens at the Historic Barns Park. They’ve got an email list of about 40-50 interested parties to keep in the loop and a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ CommunityGardenatHistoricBarnsPark. Or, email communitygardenguild@gmail.com.

You can also just stop by, every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon, or Thursday from 5-7 p.m. “It’s a good time to ask questions and get involved,” Haynes says.

 
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09.24.2013 at 05:08 Reply

Gargen? ;-)

 

09.24.2013 at 05:08 Reply

Gargen? ;-)

 

09.24.2013 at 05:09 Reply

Gargen? ;-)

 

09.24.2013 at 05:09 Reply

Gargen? ;-)

 

09.24.2013 at 05:09 Reply

Gargen? ;-)

 

 
 
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