The garden is open!
By Amy Kuras
This past weekend, I and all my fellow Palmer Park gardeners kicked off the season in style. On a day that started out pouring rain and ended up sunny, warm and beautiful, we planted our beds, helped a contingent of volunteers from Home Depot spread wood chips, and probably ran our site farmer, Molly Leebove, ragged with all our questions.
The gardeners are as diverse as the people who use Palmer Park for any number of things; families,
singles, and groups like Yoganic Flow and GirlTrek. Some of us are experienced gardeners, some are
brand new, and we’re planting everything from arugula to zucchini.
For my family and I, this garden represents something we’ve long hoped for in a place we already love.
When my husband Paul and I moved into our house in Greenacres 17 years ago, I immediately planted a
vegetable garden and learned how amazing food can taste when it was picked mere minutes before
hitting your plate. I kept it up for a few years, but lost my mojo when my daughter Maggie (who now
goes by Max) came along in 2004 and when my son Will arrived in 2008. By the time I was thinking I
might want to start up again, the big maple tree in our backyard had grown enough to keep the whole
yard in shade for almost all of the day. I managed to eke out a few tomatoes and get an herb garden
going, but generally any really productive growing was not happening.
When I was a kid, I remember my dad belonging to a community garden, where you could rent a bed for
the summer. I work for the Detroit Food Policy Council, which has close ties with the urban agriculture
community, but my inquiries about such a thing here in Detroit came up empty. I’d resigned myself to
getting my fresh seasonal veggies at the farmers market. Then, late last year I heard about the Rent A
Bed program. To say I was excited is an understatement. We already love Palmer Park and spend a lot of
time at the splash park and on the trails when the weather is nice. I attended the annual meeting to find
out more and signed up on the spot!
We joined Keep Growing Detroit’s Garden Resource Program, took their basic gardening class, and Molly
kindly let us start planting all our cold crops early. At our kick-off meeting in mid-May, I dragged my kids
over to see the bed. “WE HAVE BABIES!!!” I cheered, seeing the band of lettuce seeds germinating into
little microrgreens and the peas Will had planted slowly unfurling themselves toward the sun. This was,
to my teen and tween, about the most embarrassing thing a person has ever done, but I didn’t care. We
were even able to harvest some lettuce from the plants we’d taken home from KGD and had our first
official salad from the garden (okay, with a LOT of store bought lettuce as well) at Sunday dinner.
Amy Kuras is Research and Policy Program Manager for Detroit Food Policy Council and member of People for Palmer Park.