Community garden proposal moving forward in Village of Pinckney

Concept drawing by Vonn Weisenberger, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pinckney could soon build a community garden, complete with wheelchair-accessible raised beds among the 16 being proposed.

The lot at 135 W. Main St. — which has been vacant for decades — was recently approved for use as a community garden by the Pinckney DDA, with $10,000 from its New Initiatives Fund to support it. The project is also one of 10 finalists in the Consumer’s Energy’s “Put Your Town on the Map” competition, which could net it as much as an additional $25,000 in funding.

The Consumer’s competition required a short pitch of a project that would “create momentum that builds a stronger sense of community.” The awards — $25,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place — will be awarded at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan’s Small Town and Rural Development Conference on April 14.

“I had been researching community gardens in other municipalities, and at the same time, interest in a community garden popped up on various social media forums, so everything sort of aligned,” said Rebecca Foster, the Pinckney Village president. “We had a brain-storming session that resulted in a proposal to utilize the DDA-owned vacant lot.”

The core group working on the project includes residents of the village, as well as the townships of Putnam and Hamburg.

The Consumer’s pitch competition was suggested by Marcia Gebarowski of the Economic Development Council of Livingston County. Foster submitted a proposal based on the ideas discussed by the core group in the initial meeting for 16 raised beds fronting the lot along Main Street, with a few wheelchair-accessible raised beds as well.

“I had zero expectations of getting to the final round” said Foster, who decided to approach the DDA for support and possible funding.

The proposal fit with the DDA’s mission to beautify the district and attract activity and business; the board unanimously voted to allow the use of the lot and support the project with up to $10,000 from its New Initiatives Fund, an amount that can be adjusted if the project is awarded any funds from the Consumer’s competition, or used to expand the project.

“We are all very excited about the idea, and the competition,” Foster said. “The community support and willingness to really pitch in, not just with ideas, but with the research and literally shovels-in-the-ground kind of thing, has been beyond awesome.”

Details on applications, fees, water access and rules are being worked out by the group.

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