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Cultivating kindness: Community garden unites neighbors

Mike Lebrun sets the foundation blocks for the compost pile. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010 - There's a patch of tilled up soil on Stoney Creek just west of Adams Road that's taking the meaning of "homegrown" to a whole new level.

For now, the soil looks like, well, dirt. But soon the sprouts of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, carrots and 18 other fruits and vegetables will turn into nearly seven tons of food, and given to local charitable organizations and residents in need.

The garden is the fruit of three local ladies' labors: Elizabeth Foitenyi, her daughter, Nicolette Jenaras, and Nancy Wurm.

A community garden was Foitenyi's dream for a long time, and when she died unexpectedly in December 2008, Jenaras and Wurm knew the best way to honor her.

"They said, 'that's it, we're doing the garden in honor of Elizabeth.' That's how it got started," said Sue Kinch, garden volunteer, noting this will be the community garden's second year.

Eventually, the seed of volunteerism spread to dozens of other community members who offer labor and supplies.

"A man who lives three doors down brought manure piles that we're going to use in the compost bin. There's a farmer who lives down the road, and he will fill up water barrels for us so we can water crops," said Wurm. "It's for the community, by the community."

Kinch said from the beginning, all the things needed to make the project a success kept falling into place.

"We said, 'How are we going to water this thing?' 'I don't know, how are we?' Then someone said we have to get rocks out of the field, so we piled a bunch of rocks by a tree, and this farmer pulls in a water truck and says 'I'll water your garden if I can have those rocks,'" she said. It was a done deal.

Wurm invites anyone in the area to work in the garden, and says people are welcome to stop and pick fresh produce if the need arises.

Charitable groups, like the Baldwin House and Pontiac's YMCA have helped out last year, and are welcome again this year.

Work schedule includes Sunday afternoon, Monday through Thursday nights and Saturday mornings, said Kinch.

But don't expect to just get a little dirt on your hands.

"People come thinking it's about a garden, but it's really about the community part that happens while you're here. While you're weeding, or while you're picking beans, you're talking to other people and feeling like you have a stronger connection to the community," said Wurm.

She added, "It's wonderful for us to be able to bless an organization that's working so hard to bless the community."

Want to get involved? Call Wurm at 248-763-1228 or email her at nancy.wurm@kensingtonchurch.org.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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