City to celebrate revamped Rochester Community Garden

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 11, 2022

 TOP: The Rochester Community Garden has been completely rebuilt, with new fencing, improved garden beds, resurfacing and more. ABOVE: Before the renovation, the wood that the Rochester Community Garden’s beds were made of was starting to decompose and there were problems with weeds.

TOP: The Rochester Community Garden has been completely rebuilt, with new fencing, improved garden beds, resurfacing and more. ABOVE: Before the renovation, the wood that the Rochester Community Garden’s beds were made of was starting to decompose and there were problems with weeds.

Photos provided by the city of Rochester

 To help support the Rochester Community Garden, members of the public can purchase a “Rochester Community Garden: Renovation 2022” T-shirt via a link on the city’s website.

To help support the Rochester Community Garden, members of the public can purchase a “Rochester Community Garden: Renovation 2022” T-shirt via a link on the city’s website.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester

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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community Garden continues to grow, and the public is invited to see the changes later this month.

Created in an underutilized space in Scott Street Park in 2011, the Rochester Community Garden is a collaborative effort between Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, the city of Rochester and the City Beautiful Commission.

The garden was originally funded through a combination of sources — including city funds and a grant from Fiskars Corp.’s Project Orange Thumb — and was later expanded to include a children’s garden for educational programs by Dinosaur Hill, thanks to a grant from the Home Depot Foundation.

Exposure to Michigan’s elements took a toll on the garden over the years, so in 2021, the Rochester City Council approved a plan to renovate and expand the community garden.

“The garden itself was getting older,” said Sue Neal, the executive director of Dinosaur Hill. “Nature was taking its course, and the wood that the garden was built out of was starting to decompose, and we were having problems with weeds, so the City Council made the decision to invest in upgrading the garden so that it would be built in a much more permanent way, with less maintenance costs ongoing for the city every year. And, hopefully, it improves the experience for the gardeners and also increases capacity so that more folks have the opportunity to participate.”

The project includes new fencing, improved garden beds and resurfacing.

A ribbon cutting for the newly renovated garden is planned for 3 p.m. Monday, May 16. The public is invited to attend.

“It’s like a brand-new garden. It’s pretty cool,” said Acting City Manager Nik Banda.

“It’s a complete and total rebuild of the entire facility,” Neal added.

Assistant Finance Director Marcy Moriwaki said the ultimate goal for the garden is to pull the community together.  It’s designed to allow residents with limited yard space to lease a plot of land for growing fruits and vegetables in a community setting. Gardeners are also encouraged to dedicate part of their garden to the Rochester Area Neighborhood House community food bank.

“During the pandemic, we really saw what an amazing recreational opportunity it is for our community, where folks were able to still come out and get exercise and engage with each other in a totally safe way,” Neal noted.

Dinosaur Hill is currently accepting applications for the Rochester Community Garden’s 2022 growing season.

Since the organic garden opened, many people have leased plots, which are managed by Dinosaur Hill. Garden plots, Neal said, are first offered to returning gardeners at the end of February, and then all unclaimed open plots are open to the public on a first come, first served basis until they are all taken. Plots cost $30 per plot for residents within the city or $35 per plot those outside of the city limits, and applications are available at www.dinosaurhill.org.

“It fills up every year,” said Neal.

Keep Michigan Beautiful, a statewide organization, bestowed its second highest award, the Michigan Plaque, on the Rochester Community Garden for its unique collaboration between Dinosaur Hill and the city.

“It’s something that we’re really proud of,” Neal explained. “The property is owned by the city of Rochester — they are the ones that handle the infrastructure side of it — and Dinosaur Hill does all the administration of it, manages getting all the gardeners signed up, assigns plots and facilitates the garden throughout the season. It’s a unique and creative way to be able to sustain a community garden in a city.”

To help support the Rochester Community Garden, members of the public can purchase a “Rochester Community Garden: Renovation 2022” T-shirt via a link on the city’s website. Officials said all profits will go directly to the city of Rochester for future community garden improvements.

The Rochester Community Garden is located in Scott Street Park, on Woodward Avenue in Rochester, adjacent to the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve and the city’s public works facility.

For more information about the Rochester Community Garden, visit www.dinosaurhill.org, email Garden@DinosaurHill.org or call the city’s Finance Department (248) 733-3700.

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