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A place to grow and connect: Mount Pleasant's first community garden

 Courtesy of the city of Mount Pleasant.
Courtesy of the city of Mount Pleasant.

This summer, the city of Mount Pleasant is growing its first community garden.

Residents can rent a space to grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables.

The Parks and Recreation department has introduced the garden rental program to increase access to food and promote healthier diets, Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Spaces Phil Biscorner said.

“Obviously, you can’t grow everything,” he said. “But the ability to do some things yourself will save money down the road. But you also know specifically what you put into that, … [and] what types of things you’re looking for. I think it (community gardens) just gives that ability to do that.”

MSU’s Community Food Systems Coordinator Mariel Borgman said community gardens are a way for people that lack the ability to garden at home to do so.

“It’s a way that they can have that space, but also an opportunity to meet other gardeners and kind of form a community around that common interest of growing vegetables or flowers, or whatever they may be interested in,” she said.

Borgman said renting plots within a community garden is typical. However, there are also community gardens that are free because residents participate in creating and running the garden.

“The hope is that we’ll be able to expand it (the community garden),” Biscorner said. “There’s been some talk about putting an orchard in, like a small orchard for apples and different things. But at this point, we’re just trying to see what the need is.”

Due to the pandemic, it was difficult to get food, Borgman said. As a result of this, there was a growing interest in gardening, which has remained steady, she said. People are also concerned about the cost of food with inflation, she said, so they are turning to new ways of attaining food.

“We don't know our neighbors as much as we did in the past,” Borgman said. “And again, COVID caused a lot of isolation for folks. And so having an opportunity to be able to interact and have a community -- I think there's definitely a growing interest in finding ways to reconnect in that way.”

There are 15 garden plots available at the Horizon Park Community Garden. Biscorner said residents have until June 1 to register. Online registration can be found at the Mount Pleasant city website. For a hard copy, contact the Parks and Recreation department. According to a press release written by the department, there is a limit to one plot per household.

If there are a few more than 15 applicants, Biscorner said the department will consider building more garden beds.

However, if there are many applicants, he said a lottery drawing will be held June 2. After the drawing, a $30 summer rental fee is due for those registered.

For confirmed residents, gardening tools and resources will be available in a shed that can be unlocked with a provided code, Biscorner said.