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Genesee Conservation District, Michigan

The Genesee Conservation District (CD) project reached over 500 community members through outreach events and workshops. Those included pollinator education on Earth Day, reducing home food waste, an 1890’s scholarship student event, and wildlife/ habitat management.

Unicorn garden members building a trellis to save tomato crop from rotting

Technical assistance was provided at a number of community gardens within the district.

The Unicorn Garden, planted and maintained by residents of an apartment complex, was facing a few issues. The district tackled their biggest concern, which was the loss of half the crop each year due to improper staking, by introducing a simple trellising technique. Near the end of the garden season, staff followed up with the community members and discovered the trellis had saved nearly all tomatoes from rotting.

My Brother’s Keeper had a small garden that was constantly overgrown. Some of the adults there are homeless veterans, many of whom are not able to crouch down or bend over to work in a garden. The district created a raised bed that would stand 3-4 feet off the ground and materials for a second bed.

The Renaissance Center is developing resources for people in the Civic Park community, including an agriculture house that will contain a certified kitchen and food storage. District staff attended multiple meetings and designed a simple garden as a food resource and pollinator garden. After community members saw the garden, they requested something to encourage gardening, gathering and healthy lifestyles in other parts of the neighborhood. The district developed community garden beds with a butterfly garden adjacent to an outdoor concert stage.

Renaissance Center’s community garden located next to their agriculture house

Hispanic Tech developed a community garden but had constant groundhog issues. The district designed and built a raised “U” bed that is fenced to keep the groundhogs out. Additionally, a pollinator garden was installed by the raised beds.

A community member on Flint’s east side reached out in an effort to clean up his neighborhood. As a business owner, he noticed visitors are skeptical of the area because it is heavily blighted. He presented an idea to plant the boulevard, making it more attractive. The district helped him develop a plan that would burst in color from spring into late summer. Four beds were planted this fall, and plantings will continue in the spring of 2019.

Sustainability

The district worked with organizations that displayed a need and offered a solution. All groups work with community members to improve neighborhoods by decreasing homelessness, hunger, blight or crime. The projects helped to beautify neighborhoods as well as build culture around growing their own food or pollinator support. The district UAC coordinator’s position will be sustained for at least one year. Other grant funds will be sought beyond this year to continue providing much-needed urban agriculture and conservation services to the community.

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