Children's Services Community Garden
The summer of 2008 marked the first time the Youth Center planted, maintained, and harvested fresh vegetables from a Community garden, located in our building courtyard. The idea for our Community Garden came from our School Social Worker, Lisa Gottlieb. In 2011, Washtenaw County horticulturalist Bob Bricault was asked to continue the gardens at the Youth Center. He invited Master Gardeners to take the lead on the gardening projects.
Since then, a group of Washtenaw County Master Gardeners and community volunteers have worked together to plan, teach and assist the students in their gardens.
The students do the planting, tending, harvesting, and cooking in the courtyards with guidance from the gardeners. More than 40 types of vegetables and 10 herbs grow in the gardens including Swiss chard, cucumbers, and garlic. Some favorite recipes include red and green salsa, kale pancakes, cilantro pesto, and a variety of veggie juice.
With grant funding, the 4-H Youth Center gardens have been expanded to 2 courtyards with 7 or 8 raised beds each. Native plants were also put in each garden to attract butterflies and compost bins have been added. Raised beds have been constructed for the front entrance of the building with a section of native plants and a rain barrel was installed. The gardening program encourages students to continue gardening once they leave the Center by providing them with plants to take home in addition to "graduation" gifts of garden gloves, trowel, recipe-garden guide booklet, and seeds. Extra produce from the gardens is also shared with visitors and local food recovery programs (Food Gatherers, etc.)
Master Gardeners involved with this program have applied for and received funding from national and local groups. Some of the generous sponsors include:
- Ann Arbor Farm and Garden
- Ann Arbor Rotary
- Dexter Garden Club
- Home Depot
- Southeast Michigan Butterfly Association
- Whole Kids Foundation
The project has also received in-kind donations or reduced price items from Project Grow, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and Ace Barnes Hardware.
Download a free copy of the Recipe and Garden Guidebook (PDF). This guide contains actual recipes our gardeners and residents have used at the Youth Center!