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Wakefield looks to grow community garden


WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Community Garden has already won something, and it’s not even built yet.

Wakefield City Manager Richard Brackney said the idea for the garden began when he saw Michigan Tech University was looking for communities interested in developing a community garden, as a group of university students were competing in a Western Michigan Project Management Institute community garden design competition.

The university was looking for a community where the plan could be brought to fruition, rather than simply have it as an abstract plan for the competition.

The students not only became the first Michigan Tech group to win the competition, Brackney said, the institute provided some seed money for the garden.

“Evidently they were so well received, and the enthusiasm of the students showed up so well that this group — on it’s own — decided to award the city of Wakefield a $2,500 grant to put the community garden into practice,” Brackney said.

The money, along with a $500 grant from TransCanada, will be used to build a pair of raised beds at the municipal building.

“Now we’re trying to get people to say, ‘OK, I’m interested in having this community garden in Wakefield,’” Brackney said.

By locating the garden at the municipal building, Brackney said he hopes it’s in a central location that encourages residents to use it as a gathering place.

“This is going to be right downtown, where people are going to see it all the time. And I want it to be within walking distance of, for example, Sunset Manor ... and the Riverview Apartments and the other people that live in what I call the core city,” Brackney said. “I want it to be a community activity. I’m not just looking for fruits and vegetables, what I want is — I would love to see four generations of families work on a plot. To have the grandkids, the mom and dad, the grandparents and great grandparents.”

He said he is also considering benches and picnic tables so residents can gather and enjoy the space.

Brackney made clear that, while he is running point on the project, it is more than a city venture.

“The way I put it to my council and to others in the community is, ‘This is not a city project, this is a community project the city will support,’” Brackney said, adding several local Master Gardeners will volunteer to help.

Brackney said he hopes to have the first two beds built and planted in the next week or two, with hopes of expanding the space in the future if there is enough demand.

Those interested in space in the garden can contact Brackney at 906-229-5131, extension 1003.

While he plans to charge a small fee for space, he said that is more to ensure accountability and any money will go back into the garden.


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