OLHSA’S Summer Youth Employment Program beautifies Pontiac with community gardens Posted: August 02, 2016

OLHSA’s annual Summer Youth Employment Program is in full swing and making downtown Pontiac more beautiful day by day. This year, students in the program are building community gardens in Pontiac, at Clark and Stockwell and Osnum and Anderson.

Before building the first garden at Clark and Stockwell, participants toured the Micah 6 community garden in Pontiac to learn from Coleman Yoakum, Director of Micah 6, about how to grow vegetables and how to build raised beds. This learning was applied and the 40 participants ages 16 to 19 went to work building a garden of their own, while putting to use their new carpentry and gardening skills.

“Just in building the raised beds you could see their confidence being boosted,” said Kelsey Krumrey, Summer Youth Employment Manager. “Seeing your work actually create something is new to many of these youth.”

The second garden, at Osnum and Anderson, is a direct result of community members seeking to beautify and utilize their spaces. After seeing the transformation at the first garden this summer, Perry Earl of Nation of Kings Church connected with OLHSA’s SYEP group to duplicate efforts on the church property.  

So far the gardens consists of vegetables, as well as some flowers for pollinating. This season’s crop includes carrots, beans, beets, onions pumpkins, radish, squash, and several leafy greens.

The garden project is made possible through a grant from the MDNR which provides funds for the Summer Youth Employment Program.

“It is my vision to make it theirs by giving choices for other projects, perhaps a farm table and canopy for water breaks while working in the space,” said Krumrey. “Many of them loved building the beds and I want to work to incorporate more of that into the summer plans. Lumber donations will be graciously accepted!”