Yesterday my daughter and I were heading to the antique store in the little strip mall in Holland Michigan (Holland Town Center) that houses a few outlet stores and the Tulip Festival favorite, Dutch Village. I was searching for some unique decorations and my daughter was hoping to find some old Breyer horses. When we pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t believe what I saw!! What used to be a huge parking lot that was never used (the mall doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic) had been transformed into an amazingly beautiful garden!! I was stunned, to say the least – I started to get all teary eyed (my daughter can attest to that), that here in the middle of what used to be wasted space, a group of individuals not only had the vision for something so beautiful, but that they followed through on that vision and created something that will make an impact far beyond the parking lot of the mall.
There was a couple with their kids walking around the garden so I pulled up next to them and asked if they knew anything about the garden. They happened to be the ones who started the whole project – Eighth Day Farm. They said they were working with the developer of Holland Town Center to create the garden. According to their brochure, their primary goal is to “educate youth and adults about the many ways our food consumption affects our lives and planet, improve access to good food for low income households, and to employ under or unemployed neighbors in the city of Holland”. They said they will be offering a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), will be donating produce to local partner organizations, will be employing local people in need of jobs to help tend the 1.3 acre garden, and will be starting a farm stand in July 2012 to sell the produce from the garden. What an amazing project!! My husband and I grew up in Flint, Michigan, and my family still lives there. We’ve had discussions on what it would take to help Flint, and other similar communities, get back on their feet, and I always bring up a project like this – not only does it provide something that is much needed (great quality food), but it also helps bring a community together through teamwork, and it also gives people an opportunity to contribute and produce something of value in a loving and nurturing way. So much can be learned through projects like this.
If you get a chance, stop on out and see the garden, show your support, and volunteer if you are so inclined. In the meantime, check out their website here.