The Rapidian

Garfield Park's community garden expands to include all neighbors

The Garfield Park Neighborhood Association is hosting a community garden with both traditionally rented plots and community plots where neighbors can participate in the harvest through working together.
Garfield Park's community garden

Garfield Park's community garden /Courtesy of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association

Underwriting support from:
GPNA's community garden

GPNA's community garden /Courtesy of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association

GPNA's community garden and shed

GPNA's community garden and shed /Courtesy of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association

For the second year, the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association will be hosting a community garden. Started in 2015 with the help of Phil Whaler, an agronomist, the garden will expand this year to include community plots that anyone can work without having to pay.

“Last year we did a traditional model where people can rent a space and come and work their plot. This year we’re going to open it up and also have a larger community space available where anybody can be part of the garden through their work and effort. They’ll get a share of the produce that’s grown based on how much time they’ve put in,” says Fran Dalton, Neighborhood Organizer and Crime Prevention Specialist. “Our garden is located in a pretty economically distressed area so we thought if we made it a little bit easier for people to access the opportunity by simply working rather than having to pay up front we’d improve the access. Because one of our goals is to improve access to nutritious food right within the neighborhood.”

The GPNA is able to have the garden because of a grant they received from the Dyer Ives Foundation. The grant provides for the manager that going to run the garden and work with the gardeners during open hours, as well as the seedlings and materials needed.

Dalton says another thing they did differently this year is to make sure to spread the word face-to-face within the community as much as possible. “We’ve widely publicized the garden, flier-ed everybody, the churches, the schools. We did all we could the ge the word out so that people are aware that the garden is there. This was in response in the feedback from last year, making sure everyone knew that the garden was for them, and not a closed-off little community.”

The community garden includes two levels of involvement. They have 5’ by 12’ plots available for rent to garden members. Plot use fee is $35 (with a $10 refund at the end of the season). GPNA also has garden space dedicated to the community where neighbors can come help in the garden during Community Space Open Hours in exchange for garden produce. The Community Space Garden could provide a grocery trips worth of seasonal vegetables a week when harvest begins.

“We’re also accepting donations from anybody that has garden equipment they want to get rid of. We have a shed that we built to store equipment for folks that don’t have it. Anything that could be used in the garden. Rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels. Even seedlings.”

For more information contact Fran Dalton at [email protected] or call 616-241-2443. The garden is located at 1714 Madison Ave SE.

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