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Inner Dearborn: Communal Garden Brings Joy of Growing to Many

Gardeners at the shared space find that it's as much about tending to their plots as it is about tending to their community.

She waited six years for the well-turned patch of land on the edge of the Community Organic Garden. 

One warm Sunday morning, a busy mom of three tended a newly planted vegetable garden while her three-year-old daughter Alyssa sat busily occupied with her sparkly toy ponies on a blanket spread nearby. Other gardeners began to arrive, hoping to beat the heat. The young woman was clearly excited about the opportunity to expand her garden beyond her home’s shady borders. 

The busy young mother explained that the adjoining plot, which is circled by a fence which could have been fashioned with parts from a satellite dish, was nurtured by a good-natured gentleman who made his living in Alaska, but returned to Dearborn on occasion to tend his garden.

Twenty bucks a year is an incredible deal for a sunny, well-drained plot of land and all the free mulch and water a guy or gal can tote. If nothing else, it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to rub elbows with fellow garden plotters.

Everyone seems to have a story, as well as a creative streak reflected in each eclectic plot. It’s clear this project is not just about the vegetables and flowers that flourish on these acres, but about the camaraderie of fellow plot-tenders. A wooden gazebo at the center boasts perennial wildflowers, picnic tables and hosts a monthly barbecue. Runners, walkers and bikers whiz by on the pathway, necks craned for a view of this delightful quilt-like hillside.  

Each plot is surrounded by a recycled wood-chipped path. Some are entirely fenced in, others named and a few sport unique methods of chasing away unwanted intruders–all organic, of course. Who knew the tin man could be so useful in the yard? My husband thought he looked more like R2D2. No herbicides or pesticides allowed.  Composting is heavily encouraged.

Planted squarely on the border between the University of Michigan-Dearborn and , the Community Organic Garden welcomes well-behaved visitors. Dogs will need to wait on the path.

No plots are available at this time. Still, join the waiting list by calling the Environmental Interpretive Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn at 313-583-6371 and filling out the necessary paperwork.  Or visit them online.

It’s worth the wait.

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