Utica to start local community garden project

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 2, 2021

 Woman’s Life Chapter 911 will be putting together a Jimmy John’s Field baseball fundraiser to help bring a community garden to the area of Pioneer Park.

Woman’s Life Chapter 911 will be putting together a Jimmy John’s Field baseball fundraiser to help bring a community garden to the area of Pioneer Park.

Photo provided by Lynn Karnes

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UTICA — Utica soon will be seeing a new garden project coming together downtown for the local community to enjoy and participate in as it brings more beauty to the city.

Charitable organization Woman’s Life Chapter 911 will be putting together a Jimmy John’s Field baseball fundraiser to help bring a community garden to the area of Pioneer Park, 7505 Hahn St. Some garden supplies have already started to appear at the location.

The project was approved by the Utica City Council.

Lynn Karnes, the Woman’s Life Chapter 911 president, said that there had been some people who had mentioned that they were interested in starting a community garden.

“There was a bunch of talk on the Shelby Township/Utica Facebook page about having a community garden. So I began researching and presented to City Council, and they approved the garden,” she said.

She said the community garden will be a vegetable garden, mainly, with a few flowers like milkweed and marigolds to keep the bugs away.

Karnes said they are looking for any extra garden plants that anyone may have to be put to use in the new garden.

“This is the first year, so we are just taking any donations of vegetable plants that people have extras of. We are putting together a sitting area,” she said.

For those who are interested in helping with the new community garden, people can get involved by physically volunteering — pulling weeds, planting donated plants and making monetary donations toward the galvanized raised beds, wood chips, soil, compost and fencing.

Karnes said they have even more plans for the garden next year.

“We hope to make it a space where next year people can purchase their own beds and grow their own vegetables and also will be able to share in the crop by donating their time,” said Karnes.

Laurie Schmidt, a resident of Utica, said many people in the community have expressed their excitement for the garden.

“Seeing the community get excited about the garden has been awesome — like a young man named William who comes to the garden nearly every day to weed because he loves it,” she said.

She said that many of those interested have stopped by to see the changes and that the group plans to add additional structures and decorations to the garden, but it will take a while.

“We have had several volunteers stop by and say how great it is to have something like this in the community. I am excited to be a small part of this development. We have long-term plans of putting in a pavilion and possibly an adult fitness trail,” she said.

Utica Mayor Gus Calandrino said Schmidt has been the leading force in getting the Utica Community Garden started and he would also like to thank the Parks and Recreation Commission, and especially Lynn Karnes for getting the idea off the ground.

“Laurie Schmidt and Lynn Karnes came to the city and asked if they could take an unused area of Pioneer Park and create a community garden. They have overcome some steep hurdles, such as finding irrigation and working with very poor soil conditions, to create a viable space for the community,” he said.

He said he stops by the Utica Community Garden daily, and it’s been exciting to see the progress being made. It’s also encouraging to hear that more and more residents are showing interest and lending a hand to make the community garden a success, he said.

The fundraiser for the community garden will take place Thursday, Aug. 26. To purchase tickets or for more information, email WL911macombangels@gmail.com or call Karnes at (586) 604-6907 for the link.

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