Posts tagged Urban Garden Programs and Events

It’s the Great Pumpkin…Decorating for the Holiday!

2013 Summer Gardens 072

Bonnie’s Pumpkin!

It’s the last week of October and the garden club, under the direction of DeAndrea Rogers, P.C.I.S., and teacher Carrie Hahn, were decorating pumpkins to take home.  With the cooperation of Farmer John’s Vegetable Market (Warren), we were able to give away nearly 20 pumpkins.

(Click on each picture to enlarge)

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Without the cooperation and the support of the following this classroom 

moment  would not have happened…


The Administration of Nolan Elementary-Middle School

Angela Underwood, Principal

DeAndrea Rogers, Parent & Community Involvement Specialist

Carrie Hahn, Teacher


Bonnie Odom-Brown


B.E. Culturally Exposed


Sandra Tomlin, Vice President Community Affairs

MIFCU logo and tagline

Michigan First Credit Union


Maura Ryan-Kaiser


Snelling Staffing Services


Project Sweet Tomato


Arthur Littsey



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Pot Luck Picnic 2013

2013 Summer Potluck Picnic



Elementary-Middle School

“Planting the Seeds”

School Garden

on Saturday, July 27th


@ 12:00 noon3:00


will be provided!

Bring a dish to pass around!

2013 at the garden was full of changes…a lot of them.  Our student base was younger.  The support was stronger…more consistent over term.  Our goals were a little higher.  One thing we really wanted to do was to change the dynamic of the mid-season picnic. Because of the extended school semester (another change) we foresaw an opportunity to get more parents involved by having a good old-fashion “potluck” picnic.  Each young gardener took home a flyer to their parents seeking permission to attend because it was on a non-school day.  The turnout…students to parents, was better than previous years and we all had a great time.  It was nice to see the kids take their parents out to the various beds and tell them what they were growing.  If they were even a little bit like me, they were planning future dinner menus as they strolled through

 It was also significant for us to have our teacher, Ms. Carrie Hahn and the school principal, Angela Underwood and her family show up.  This reflects the new attitude that Principal Underwood and her teachers represent.  They do everything they can to reach all of the positive touch points they can.  This means that they are always pretty busy.  Busy yes, but there is no shortage of sincerity in their efforts.

There were plenty of candid moments, some that the cameras didn’t capture.  The sampling of Ms. Hahn’s homemade Kale Chips for starters!  Babies were pampered, it didn’t matter whose baby it was, on this day we were all family.  The kids, as they proudly introduced us and the garden to their parents.  There were the moments where we could talk directly to each parent about how well their child was doing and how hard they worked.  There were compliments from the parents as well.  You could see how proud they were of their little munchkins as they showed off their hard work!

Mazin Shina (Imperial Super Market) & Bonnie Odom-Brown

Mazin Shina (Imperial Super Market) &
Bonnie Odom-Brown

2013 Summer Gardens 151

One of our garden families!

Principal Underwood getting a tour by her students

Principal Underwood getting a tour by her students

Two of our garden superstars!

Two of our garden superstars!

Ms. Hahn with her students and her brother

Ms. Hahn with her students and her brother

I'm talkin' about love...L-O-V-E!

I’m talkin’ about love…L-O-V-E

Does she like what she sees?

Does she like what she sees?

Bonnie's always working!

Bonnie’s always working!

Picnic Central!

Picnic Central!

A Special Thanks to Our Food & Supplies Sponsors…

Mazin Shina

Imperial Super Market

(8 Mile & Dequindre/Detroit)


Maura Ryan-Kaiser



Sandra Tomlin

MIFCU logo and tagline********************

Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed



Arthur Littsey


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Detroit School Garden Collaborative…The New Game in Town!

Sometime last fall, I heard about a new urban gardening program that sounded like one of the best ideas in quite some time, the Detroit School Garden Collaborative (DSGC).  In 2013 it planned on putting in raised beds in about 45 schools.  They also talked about developing nutritional programs and using produce from the gardens in the schools.

On May 14th, they put in six new raised beds at Nolan.  I wasn’t there and from the looks of it I am glad I wasn’t.  This was some very hard work!

No, this is not a prehistoric landfill!

No, this is not a prehistoric landfill!

Setting Up

Setting Up

Let's get busy!

Let’s get busy!

Coming along just as it was planned!

Coming along just as it was planned!

Coming together one bed at a time!

Coming together one bed at a time!

- - TA DA - -

– – TA DA – –

At the end of the day, Nolan had 6 brand-spanking new raised beds.  Boy were we going to have fun with them!!!

For more on the Detroit School Garden Collaborative take a look at the blog:  Days of Our Garden: Diary II (December 2012 – March 2013) at John R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy.  Teacher/Garden Coordinator, Gwen Bouler, attended all of the DSGC sessions and workshops.

I think that the DSCG will eventually find its way, though the path may not be as easy for them as they would like.  They will need to have complete and total buy-in from all of the stakeholders and that includes kitchen personnel.  They will have to hire smart!  They don’t need people who are looking for an easy job, because it isn’t.  They need smart people, gardening people who are self-motivated and individually-inspired to take care of the gardens they are charged with.  They need to have a practical plan for when schools are on break and most of their resources are not accessible.  They have a unique program and logistically, only a few schools are properly set up to do everything that they’d like to have happen.  So because of that, they need to focus on and recruit only those schools that can accomplish what they are trying to achieve.  They should be the resource the schools and their gardens need them to be.  Detroit schools, just like the city, are not sitting on stacks of money.  They are needy!  Oh yes, the children will have enough of the basics to make learning less of a challenge than it is, but anything extra-curricular, well…er…ah…ahem…you know!  So don’t start something for them to have to financially support later.  They will buy school books and classroom materials…but garden tools?  That might be just a little too much to ask.

Negativity aside, like I said at the beginning, I think that they will find their way.  I do know some of the people there and if those I don’t know are as good about their work as the people I do know, then there is not a lot to worry about.

Good Luck…Happy Gardening!

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The End Of The Beginning – She Leaves H_ _ _ T P _ _ _ _ S!

First things first!  By the end of this story you will be able to fill in the blanks…

I was sitting around one day after dinner with a bunch of friends and quite naturally the conversation shifted to my work with the kids at the “Planting The Seeds” garden.  They wanted to hear about the latest events and activities at the garden and they especially wanted to know more about the “little” lady that ran the program, BE Culturally Exposed.  As I explained to them who Bonnie was, what she does and how she does things (I call her Lisa because she reminds me of the show Green Acres as she uses her car to haul all sorts of things), it dawned upon me that the words I was using were actually a little too simple and the meaning of said words didn’t go deep enough to describe the type of person she was and what she means to the kids and perhaps to any regular observer of the garden.  So after my friends left, I sat down and tried to find the right word or group of words that described her exactly as she was.  I used words like absolute, because Bonnie is positive, actual, real and unquestionably genuine.  The word beautify because Bonnie beautifies the environment and everything that is within her sphere.  Certifiable, came to mind also.  Not as an insult though, but because you have to be crazy to do what Bonnie has done to make the garden successful and to provide such an important and relevant program for the kids.  Dedicated is one of the words that is so obvious and it is painfully inadequate in this case to describe why she does what she does. Teamplayer…the dynamic relationship with Ms. Maura is strengthened by the fact they can work together in pursuit of the same positive goal.  I went on and on until it dawned on me, Bonnie is all of the above and them some because she does something totally unique…Bonnie Elizabeth of the little hands and the big heart, leaves “heartprints”.  Like kids that leave their fingerprints on walls, doorknobs, and tables, Bonnie leaves indelible heartprints on whatever and whomever she touches.  Heartprints of compassion…of understanding and love.  Heartprints of kindness and genuine concern.  If I were to ask the kids at the garden how they felt about her, I am confident that they all would say that they have felt her touch and that they all sense the love for them that is deep within her heart.  She has left her identity on each and every one of them.  As the kids grow up and go their separate ways, Ms. Bonnie as they call her, will be with them forever.  And why not?  It’s as clear as a dewdrop on a rose petal, her heartprints are all over them!

Now Do I Have To Spell It Out For Ya!

“I spend many many hours coordinating the garden activities; transporting water and dirt, getting juice, snacks and water for the kids, lining up volunteers to help, and devoting my time to providing this positive activity for the youth of Nolan School community. I do it partly to give back to a school that both of my children attended. But I also do it because I have seen the joy in the kids eyes when they realize that someone really cares enough to provide for them this positive opportunity to learn about where their food comes from”.

B.E. Odom-Brown, June 2012


Thanks Ms. Bonnie For Your Tremendous Heart!

Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Maura Ryan-Kaiser

Arthur Littsey


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Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners Going to Market – GROWN IN DETROIT

One of the great benefits from being in the Garden Resource Program is that they provide a wide variety of events, programs and seminars relevant to the urban/community/family garden experience.

They have…

  • Education Series
  • Training Programs
  • Cooking Classes
  • Farm Tours

Many, many programs and projects that help extend the deep and satisfying pleasures that comes from the “I did it myself/We did ourselves” sense of accomplishment.  Ahhhhhhh!

This summer, Grown In Detroit is the program that has really caught my attention.  Grown In Detroit provides an opportunity for members of Detroit’s gardening community to sell their fruits, vegetables and flowers in an actual retail environment.  Families and youths from over 80 garden communities/urban farms (and growing) throughout Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park participate in the program and are providing healthy food to inner city communities.

To be in Grown In Detroit you must use sustainable farming practices. The goal is to “produce food in healthy soil without harmful chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers or genetically modified products.”  Our locally grown food is “miles” fresher and tastes so much better than food shipped from exceedingly long distances.  The big chains can’t ensure that all of the produce you buy has been grown locally and not only that…all of the money doesn’t stay here locally.  As their website says Grown In Detroit produce keeps dollars in Detroit and helps support families in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.”  Sounds like a good plan to me!

So at the end of one of our regularly schedule workday at the garden the coordinator, Bonnie Odom-Brown, gathered the kids together to discuss who among them would be going to market, as they like to call it.  I was taken back, though by now I shouldn’t be, by the enthusiasm that the kids displayed for this expedition.  I couldn’t help but think about how much of a drudge it was to go grocery shopping when I was a kid and these kids were looking forward…no, that’s the wrong word, they were down right ANXIOUS to go!  Before any decisions were made each child primped and groomed…tidied themselves up a bit, believing that was going to help their chances of getting picked.  Since you have to be of a certain age to go, the number of participants dwindled quickly.  Reluctant, as if she would be thinning little plants, Bonnie had to tell the youngest ones they could not go.  You should have seen the face on one little girl as she walked away somewhat disappointed, yet defiant and promising she will be back to make the trip(s) next year.

With all the drama and pressure of an American Idol finale, three kids were picked.  We weren’t able to leave until the schedule for the entire summer was worked out and each kid knew when he or she was scheduled to go.  Those that were picked for the excursion were actually pumped and proud that they were the first to go.  Preening and grinning, the elation shown via their faces was pretty neat!


To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog

Home again, home again, jiggity-jog

Oh what a life!  I am now appreciating some things at a brand new level by living through the eyes and faces of these very interesting kids.  Kids with very distinctive personalities and yet they share the same common reactions to being acknowledged with being asked or selected to handle additional responsibilities…pride…excitement…. happiness!  Well Alright Now!



Days/Hours and Locations for Grown In Detroit


Saturdays 6AM – 3:30PM

May 7th to November 19th

Russell St. & Adelaide St.

Just North of I-75

Look for “Grown In Detroit” in SHED 2


Wednesdays 11AM – 4PM

June 1st to October 26th

5201 Cass Ave.
Across from the Detroit Public Library

Look for “Grown In Detroit” Banner


Thursday Evenings from 4PM – 8PM

May 26th to October 13th

Bushnell Church

On the Southfield Freeway Service Drive

South of Grand River Ave.

Look for “Grown In Detroit” Banner

You may also find them on occasion at these locations…

For more information contact Carmen Regalado at The Greening of Detroit, (313) 285-1250 x246


More information about “Grown In Detroit”, The Greening of Detroit, and Detroit Agriculture can be found at or


Come on down and support the entrepreneurs of the future, many of them kids that are working in their school or community gardens.  Mmmm, let’s see now…To market, to market to buy a head of cabbage!

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More than a sign of hope…a sense of purpose!

Garlic April 2012

The picture you see above is called Allium Sativa or more commonly called Garlic.  It was planted by last year’s group of “Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners.”  Last year the kids were fascinated by the notion that something they planted then was not going to die over the winter and actually grow big and strong come spring.  Well, lo and behold the magic of Mother Nature.  You plant a seed (in this case a few bulbs) and due to the wondrous force that nature is, it grows into a living and productive plant that will make a minor, yet, significant contribution to our food chain.  There’s a “life” lesson even in that for our young wards. 

As an adult with a pretty diverse palate it’s easy for me to understand the importance of the many types of plants (fruit and vegetables) that contribute to the food chain.  Our young gardeners are starting to show a little more understanding and appreciation too…about the food and themselves.  It’s really cool when you see on the faces or in the eyes their fascination of garlic’s evolutionary process from planting a bulb to eating a bulb.  And there’s that feeling of pride from knowing that they have taken a collective and individual step forward, by ensuring that there will be something for them or for others to come back to in the spring of 2012. 

I believe that they had an unspoken but unified sense of purpose when planting the garlic bulbs, even the ones that knew they weren’t coming back.  They expected what they started to carry on…go forward…to endure!  And for anybody that came to the garden looking for just a sign of hope, the bet is they walked away with a sense of purpose too!

Looking for a way to help or support the inspired students of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners, contact:

Additionally, we are having a garden kick-off on Saturday, May 12th.  It starts at 10:00a.m. and it stops when everything is done.  It’s at Nolan Elementary-Middle School.  The address is 1150 Lantz.  For you googlers it is in the 48203 zip code.  Look below to see the information on the flyer.


BE Culturally Exposed 

Invites you to the 2012 Garden Kick-Off

Of the Nolan Community School Garden


May 12, 2012 10:00 AM – Until

Building Raised Beds , Planting, Garden Bed  Clean-up

Food & Beverages Provided

Please bring your gloves & plenty of energy!!!!!!

Call me with any questions at 313-804-6776. Bonnie Odom-Brown-, Garden Coordinator



This project is a partnership with



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The Greening of Detroit – Garden Resource Program Events

It is not too late to join The Greening of Detroit’s Garden Resource Collaborative.  Here’s a short list of some of their upcoming events:

  • Thursday, April 12th, 5:00 – 7:00PM or Saturday, April 14th, 1:00 – 3:00PM  Pick up COOL WEATHER TRANSPLANTS at Earthworks Urban Farm, 1264 Meldrum.
  • Thursday, May 17th, 5:00 – 7:00PM or Saturday, May 19th, 1:00 – 3:00PM  Pick up your HOT WEATHER TRANSPLANTS at Earthworks Urban Farm, 1264 Meldrum.

Please contact The Greening of Detroit/Garden Resource Program Collaborative for more information at (313) 285-2300 or visit their website at

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