City planting roots for community gardenPublished 9:54am Thursday, March 11, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The City of Niles is calling all green thumbs to help out in a unique community revitalization project this spring.
Plans are in the works to plant and develop a community garden in Niles this year.
“The best way to describe it is a shared plot of land where members can grow fruits and vegetables for their own consumption or for sale,” he said.
Juan Ganum, Niles’ community development director, said a community garden has been discussed by the parks and recreation board but lacked an advocate to get the ball rolling.
That is until Ganum was contacted by Mark VanTil, a Berrien Springs resident and avid gardener.
“He’s an experienced gardener. He understands it,” Ganum said. “He volunteered to help the city launch it.”
Now the city is looking for people to help VanTil to make the community garden a reality.
The Niles Public Park and Recreation Board will hold a public meeting Friday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Niles Fire Department to discuss the project. The board has created a steering committee to lead the effort, but community members are needed to make it a success.
A location for the garden has not yet been determined, but the city is in talks with the Ferry Street Resource Center about having it situated there.
The city has not budgeted for the project, so it needs to be done inexpensively.
“I anticipate it can be done at a minimal cost with donated seed or tools. We’re not talking about a large area of land,” Ganum said.
Ganum said community gardens have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years across the country. The closest one currently is the Greenhouse Garden in South Bend.
The American Community Garden Association Web site lists some of the benefits of community gardens including: stimulating social interaction, encouraging self reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation and exercise.
For more information, contact Juan Ganum at email@example.com or 683-4700.