2017 Grant Site Update: Albion Community Gardens, Diocese of Western Michigan
This is the third year for the Albion Community Gardens in Albion, Michigan. Our first year, 2016, involved primarily administrative work, such as setting up our organization as a nonprofit; acquiring nearly five acres of land in three locations; removing trees, roots, and garbage; and raising awareness of the project.
The 2017 UTO Grant of $20,744 allowed us to purchase a John Deere tractor with a mower, tiller, and bucket for the exact amount of the grant. This has been an enormous help in tilling the soil and maintaining the property during the second year of this project. We began to prepare the soil, to put up fencing and garden sheds, to acquire gardening tools and water, to plant fruit trees and perennials, and to plant vegetables as individuals and as a community. Last fall, the City of Albion provided us with many truckloads of leaves to till into the ground and wood chips to spread on the pathways. This work was, and is, so much easier with the tractor.
The tractor continues to be a blessing in this our third year, 2018. Dick Porter, junior warden at St. James’ Episcopal Church and president of Albion Community Gardens, Inc., is enjoying the responsibility of running and maintaining the tractor. He was able to get the gardens tilled and ready for planting time in May. We have about 25 family plots; a large community garden with tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and other vegetables; and a children’s garden. We are enjoying fresh strawberries this year and are looking forward to asparagus, raspberries, blackberries, apples, and other fruits in future years. This year’s gardens are up and doing well. We are thankful for the rain this past week.
Our work with Albion Community Gardens is meeting our goals and expectations of making fresh fruits and vegetables available to the residents of Albion; of providing opportunities for teaching and mentoring in growing, harvesting, canning, cooking, and eating fresh, locally grown produce; of building new friendships and relationships within our community of Albion; and of caring for God’s creation by rehabilitating abandoned lots and land within the City of Albion. We look forward to continued success in the coming years.