April 9, 2012

Community garden brings citizens together through food

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By Lauren Kroll
Mason Times Staff Writer
 

Leaders of individual garden plots, Jason and Jill McMahon
Community Garden leaders Kelli Green and Anthony Konkel
MASON–The Mason Community Garden brings citizens together each spring and summer through common interests in gardening and community spirit.Volunteers have helped make the gardens a staple since their beginning in spring 2010.

Located at 213 N. Jefferson St., approximately 0.2 miles north of downtown Mason, the garden offers growing areas for individuals and a large community donation plot.  The garden can also be reached from the Hayhoe walking path.

The community garden is composed of a 75-foot by 30-foot donation plot and 25 individual plots (15-by-15).  Jill McMahon, co-leader of the individual plots, said, “The volunteer force is 12 so far this season, but that they are always seeking new volunteers to be involved in a variety of tasks associated with the garden.”

This year, garden leaders are working toward making the individual plots accessible to handicappers with the help of the Lansing Garden Project.  Through a grant “Including Our Neighbors” supported by the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and the Michigan Developmental Disability Council, the garden will comply with the American with Disabilities Act and its guidelines to make it easier to access for all citizens.McMahon expects the garden to be accessible this season and that the work is expected to be complete by May.  Long-term plans for the garden include safer pathways, raised garden beds and a shady area in front of the garden.

“MCG is updating the accessibility of the garden to expand enjoyment and participation of the garden to differently able community members,” McMahon said.  “The improved safe pathway will connect the garden driveway to the interior of the garden.  The pathway will also extend around four (4-by-8) raised garden beds that are 20-25 inches high.”

Mason Community Garden

Mason Community Garden

“We have had a great response from the local community, including assistance from Anderson-Fischer and Associates, H&H Welding and D&G Equipment,” she said.

McMahon said that the four raised beds and a pathway of brick pavers will be added to the garden by May.  “Additional raised beds may be added in the coming years based on interest.  The shady sitting area is one of the long-term goals of the garden, at this point, we have not set a timetable for this goal,” she said.”

Vegetables grown in the community donation garden are donated to local food banks.

In its first two seasons, the garden donated a combined amount of 600 pounds of food.  Vegetables donated include: green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, squash, carrots, celery and cucumbers.

Each year the volunteers are not the only ones donating their time, the MCG has been generously supported by the city, which provides land and administrative support.  The Garden Project of the Greater Lansing Food Bank has provided gardening information and guidance, as well as funding for fencing and access to plants and seeds.

Other supporters of the garden are: Michigan State University Extension, Jim Kennedy, Martin Colburn, David Haywood, The Mason Elevator Company, Groves Motorsport, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333, Mason State Bank, Freedom Tax, and Kerr Hardware.

The group is having a work day to create the accessible beds and pathway on Saturday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and the garden will be opened for the season on Saturday, April 28.