Sarvis Park

The Sarvis Park community prays for a bountiful harvest at EJ's Garden

FLINT, Michigan — The Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association, Edible Flint, Wow Outreach, and the Brownell Blvd Coalition have aligned themselves to create a community garden. Known as ‘EJ’s Garden,’ this expansive gardening project sees 2nd Ward residents providing sustainable gardening for the community generations to come.

Since 2014 the Brownell Blvd Coalition has assisted area residents with teaching horticulture and making fresh veggies accessible. It’s one of the things that DaChelle McDonald, the leader of this operation, is proud to have in the area.

“When I was growing up in Flint, there was a lot of pride displayed between what school you went to, what street you came from, to the accomplishments you achieved in school and sports. It’s my prayer that the garden will allow people to remember what neighborhood pride looks like,” McDonald says.

“A garden has to be tended to daily for it to grow and provide adequate food just like we the people of our neighborhoods need to tend to our properties and help our children daily to grow into happy adequate citizens.”

This community garden started operations in early June, with plans to continue until late September. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., 2nd Ward residents and volunteers meet at EJ’s Garden to water and fertilize the crops, pick weeds, harvest the veggies, and maintain the area inside and out by cutting the grass and other general maintenance.  

But that’s not all this community garden has to offer. On Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon, residents can volunteer to participate in a community reading in person or live through Facebook. The goal is to produce food for the body and incorporate reading to nourish the mind. So for Dr. Ladel Lewis, the Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association founder, there’s no better time than now to join.

"It’s my prayer that the garden will allow people to remember what neighborhood pride looks like.” - DaChelle McDonald
“It’s a new day on the northside. It’s a day of collaboration—a day of unification. A day of community pride,” Dr. Lewis exclaims. “We are doing something “different” in the 2nd Ward. We encourage residents and businesses to join the movement!”

This northside food oasis is a community garden in every aspect, from partnering with Flint businesses and local organizations to even religious entities. With assistance from Blackwell AME Zion’s Pastor Overton, residents celebrated the community garden by offering prayer for residents, the city, and the bountiful land that produces and sustains the food. 

“It’s a win for the church and the neighborhood. It’s our duty to take care of Sarvis Park. I love that [Blackwell Church] have been going around and knocking on doors and asking, ‘is there anything we can do for you?’ And, ‘is there anything we can pray about with you?” says Pastor Overton.

“It’s a win for the church and the neighborhood. It’s our duty to take care of Sarvis Park." - Pastor Overton“[The] benefits of blessing the garden are whatever blessings that come from the garden and the park will be beneficial for the community [because] God always wants His children to give and it will be given back.”

The partnership with Edible Flint has allowed EJ’s Garden to expand tremendously. The collaboration with Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association and the Brownell Blvd Coalition has been ongoing for years.

The garden will even be a highlighted stop on Edible Flint’s 2022 Food Garden Tour, which will take place on Wednesday, August 3rd. 

“The Brownell Boulevard Coalition’s community garden has been connected to and supported by Edible Flint for a number of years and is a great example of community members coming together to grow healthy, local food in Flint. Edible Flint is happy to serve as a resource to the garden and help celebrate and highlight the work of the Brownell Boulevard coalition and the Sarvis Park community,” says Kelly McClelland, Edible Flint’s Program Director.

To learn more about EJ’s Garden or to volunteer to read and help with the garden, you can visit Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3618 Brownell Blvd in Flint.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.