A rain garden serving as a tool to teach youth about the importance of creating a safe and healthy environment.
$2,500 to $5,500
Located close to The Boggs School and the University Prep Science and Math, Scott Street Farm envisioned applying a lot design in their community that will be beneficial for windbreaks. Using a unique process, creating a Hügel, they hope to use the implementation project as an educational youth engagement project that could teach the younger generation the importance of creating and maintaining a healthy and safe environment. Their goal: remediate soil, beautify, create natural habitat, and create a more active and engaged outdoor space.
Scott Street Farm
$2,500 to $5,500
05/2016 - 05/2017
Alison Heeres & volunteers
2808 Scott Street Detroit, MI 48207
We chose the Friendly Fence lot design, but adapted it to include perennial fruiting plants instead of flowers (gooseberries, currants, and elderberries instead of the hydrangea). We created a Hügel, a mound of soil with logs, leaves, and branches buried within, as a method to create topographical interest, to create a raised border to the Western side of our farm, and to utilize a permaculture technique that will help with water use. The logs buried within the soil will become saturated with water, when it rains, and slowly release that water out to the plants planted within Hügel. To build the Hügel, we borrowed a neighbor's trailer and collected large Cottonwood logs from Detroit Farm and Garden. We then staged logs in a curvy design along the Grandy Ave side of our property. Then we borrowed a friend’s bobcat and moved previously collected leaves on top of the logs. Then we got a delivery of compost from Keep Growing Detroit, and used the project supporter’s bobcat to move the soil on top of the leaves. Next, we purchased transplants (and selected some of the transplants we grew ourselves) to plant out the space. Finally, a month after the planting (later than we'd hoped!), we got a water tap installed so that we can regularly water our Hügel Friendly Fence. Unfortunately, the severe lack of rain posed major setbacks in the establishment of these new plants-- and we will have to remedy this in the autumn and spring of next year.
We did customize our site. We used the Friendly Fence, but substituted perennial fruiting plants (gooseberry, currant, elderberry) instead of the Hydrangea. We also planted on mounded soil. We added other plants, like Thai basil, marigolds, sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias to the planting too.
Beautification, Prevent Public Dumping
We previously purchased the land in the fall of 2015.
I have continued to hone my skills in creating polyculture growing environments that mix flowers, herbs, and vegetables into an aesthetically pleasing and productive project. I learned how to drive a bobcat (!). I experienced the benefit of using heavy machinery in moving the leaves and soil versus by hand-- how much more time efficient such tools can be.
I am excited to work with the Boggs School in the fall when they get back into school! We engaged many neighbors in the process of building out the Friendly Fence Hugel. Some of them helped pick up trash, mow, and more, while others just engaged conversationally.
Scott Street Farm LLC has now received two grants, one of which was the Working with Lots mini-grant, that work to support the build out of our project, and we are grateful and happy for the financial support! We wouldn't be where we are today without it.
The timeline was so fast! I wanted a bit more time to get the project fully implemented. Also, the lack of rain was an impediment! Out of your control, and unusually dry, but this definitely impacted the immediate establishment of the plants.
We will plant more annual herbs and flowers every year-- and will reestablish the fruiting perennials that failed in their initial planting. We will continue to water and mulch the Hügel. We also hope to continue the Hügel form around the corner on Scott Street.