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 The Berkley Community Garden was removed and graveled over by the district as part of a long-term vision for how the space could be used. In the short-term, the land will be utilized for parking at the high school.

The Berkley Community Garden was removed and graveled over by the district as part of a long-term vision for how the space could be used. In the short-term, the land will be utilized for parking at the high school.

Photo by Mike Koury


Berkley Schools plan old community garden site for parking in short-term

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 17, 2020

BERKLEY — Residents driving down Coolidge Highway in Berkley over the past couple of months might have noticed that the community garden bordering the high school has gone away, with only its signage remaining.

The piece of land, which previously was used for community members to grow their own vegetables, saw its garden beds cleaned out after harvest season in the fall.

The garden was graveled over in November by the school district. Berkley Schools Director of Communications Jessica Stilger said the gravel has yet to be paved over, as it was not conducive in the fall to do the paving.

In September, the district purchased a piece of property that was just south of the community garden. The land formerly was occupied by a storefront with a home in the rear, which was demolished in November.

That storefront and housing property had been eyed by the district for a while, Deputy Superintendent for Finance, Facilities and Operations Larry Gallagher said, and officials didn’t want to take any chances when it became available.

Gallagher said that removing the garden was part of the district’s long-term vision for how that part of Coolidge could operate. In the short-term, the decision was made to use the space for parking at the high school.

“Our short-term is to pave that to have additional parking, because we’ve got kids that are parking in our parking lots but … then it spills over into some of the streets,” he said. “Sometimes, you get community complaints — not often — but we wouldn’t mind getting some of those cars off the streets and onto this parking (lot).”

While there was some reluctance to remove the community garden, Gallagher stated that what the space could be in the short- and long-term was what was best for the district.

“We had a lot of community members that really enjoyed that area, and I thought it was a pretty cool space on campus, as well, when it was at full bloom. … It was a tough call, but in the end, we thought that the need for parking … was a little bit greater than keeping the community garden in place,” he said.

One resident sad to see the community garden go was Doug Deeds, who helped run it for six years and taught students about planting and growing crops.

Deeds said he was disappointed at the district’s decision and felt that the Berkley community, and students, lost something when the garden was replaced.

“Kids today didn’t know where vegetables come from or how to grow them,” he said. “It broke my heart that they’d lose the program like that. … I was very unhappy.”