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Local church helps bring new community garden to a Saginaw neighborhood

A new community garden has been built in a Saginaw neighborhood because of hard work from a nearby church, volunteers, and other organizations.
A local church has helped bring a community garden to a Saginaw neighborhood.
A local church has helped bring a community garden to a Saginaw neighborhood.(Colton Cichoracki WJRT)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 3:44 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - A new community garden has been built in a Saginaw neighborhood because of hard work from a nearby church, volunteers, and other organizations.

The garden is located at the corner of Cathay and McGill streets on the northeast side of Saginaw. It is right down the road from Bethel AME Church.

The church spearheaded the effort to bring the garden to the neighborhood.

Reverend Dennis Laffoon said the corner where the garden now sits used to be vacant and it became an eyesore with garbage and overgrown vegetation.

“Just two years ago, this was just overgrown brush and garbage,” he said. “It had become a dumping ground along Cathay Street, some other lots as well.”

Laffoon said they wanted to do something about the empty lot while also addressing a need that is in the community.

This part of Saginaw is being called a “food desert”, Laffoon said. It is not located near any major grocery stores. He said this is helping lead to food insecurity in the area and they wanted to help solve that problem.

“The church was built first and the neighborhood came second and so we find it valuable part of our leadership to go ahead and to give back in whatever way we can,” Laffoon said.

Laffoon said the COVID-19 pandemic also made it more apparent that something needed to be done.

“The inspiration really came from the pandemic itself,” he said. “The pandemic really peeled back some layers of issues in our community that we already know about. We are a food desert, so food insecurity is a huge part of our narrative.”

So, over the weekend, the church and a large number of volunteers went to work building the community garden. A number of groups and organizations also came to help.

The church also received the Community Involvement grant from the Saginaw Community Foundation. That has helped bring this project to fruition.

Laffoon said the garden is just one phase of a three phase project. In the future, a secure shelter house, playground, fencing, and walking path will come to the neighborhood.

“To have us reinvest in that property, to make sure that it’s developed into something that can grow and truly be part of this neighborhood,” Laffoon went on to say.

With these projects moving forward, Laffoon said it’s good to have something like this happening in Saginaw. And said he hopes it acts like a spark to bring more of these projects to the city.

“It’s kind of like a sparkplug you know in this neighborhood,” he said. “It’s not about what used to be as much as you know, the small sparks and if we can create enough small sparks in Saginaw, then it can create large firestorm of excitement about what Saginaw can continue to be and grow to be.”

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