Community garden grows with new Children’s Garden

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 5, 2011

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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community Garden is growing.

Since the organic community garden opened in Scott Street Park in May, Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve has been eager to expand it to include a special area for children to work on their green thumbs.

“We felt that it was important that we have a portion of the garden where children could come and learn about gardening, where their food comes from, and a little bit about food and nutrition,” said Sue Neal, executive director of Dinosaur Hill.

Excited about the educational potential of a children’s garden, Neal said Dinosaur Hill staff approached Home Depot, which was interested in helping with the project.

Next week, the Home Depot team — from the Lake Orion, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Troy, Commerce Township and Sterling Heights locations — will deliver approximately $14,000 in supplies to make project possible. They’ll provide materials for a fence, lumber for the raised beds, a rain barrel, a composter, topsoil and garden tools. Hundreds of Home Depot employees will volunteer their time assist Dinosaur Hill with constructing the garden Oct. 13.

“It’s a very significant contribution to our community from Home Depot, and we’re very excited about the whole project,” Neal said.

The Rochester Community Garden is approximately 80 feet by 100 feet and currently houses 42 plots. The new Children’s Garden, organized by Dinosaur Hill, will be 30 feet by 80 feet. It will feature several beds for planting, a small area with benches where classes can meet, a rain barrel demonstration area a composting demonstration area, and a small storage shed to secure supplies.

“It’s really going to be a very functional space, and it also should look very nice,” Neal said.

Alana Hart of Home Depot said the Dinosaur Hill Children’s Garden is close to her heart.

“As a little girl, I remember going to Dinosaur Hill for the Halloween Hoot, so when I heard about this project, I really wanted to help and give back to the organization that I have fond memories of as a child,” she said.

The Rochester Community Garden was the first project for the newly reactivated City Beautiful Commission, which decided to create the garden in what it felt was an underutilized Scott Street Park. Since the organic garden opened in May, people have leased spots in the garden — which is managed by Dinosaur Hill — at a fee of $30 for Rochester residents and $35 for nonresidents. Though some people use the garden to grow food for their tables at home, all gardeners are encouraged to dedicate part of their garden to the Rochester Area Neighborhood House Community Food Bank and the Rochester Community House’s monthly Community Kitchen Dinner.

Although organizers have no official numbers on how much produce has been harvested to date, Neal said the organic garden has been “very successful” thus far, growing lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant, tomatillos, beans and much more in its first season.

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