Project EverGreen assists Detroit-based nonprofit

October 6, 2017 -  By
Project EverGreen

Vacant lots transformed by Detroit-based nonprofits with the help of Project EverGreen.

Project EverGreen, the Cleveland-based nonprofit that works to raise awareness about the benefits of green space and often renovates green spaces in urban areas, made good on its promise to assist the winners of its “Our Winning Green Space Contest.” The lucky Detroit-based nonprofits are In Memory Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization.

“We entered on a lark, hoped for the best but certainly didn’t plan on winning. It has helped us jump a little higher in pursuing our objectives and that means so much for so many,” said Barb Matney who founded the two organizations with her husband, Joe, after witnessing firsthand the disconnectedness among neighborhood residents.

The two organizations collaborate with the city of Detroit to transform vacant city lots into community gardens and “pocket parks.”

The newly green spaces serve a twofold purpose: providing healthy food for residents and creating a safe place where people can connect and get to know one another, said Matney.

As the transformation project began to take shape, the Matneys realized they had many more lots to maintain, which was where Project EverGreen and its partnersExmark Manufacturing, the Sports Turf Managers Association and the Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyonecame in.

“Before, we were able to maintain eight properties on a weekly basis, but now, with the Exmark mowers, we can handle more than 20,” Matney said. “Residents notice when the properties are maintained on a regular basis, and it has prompted them to take better care of their own property.”

Renovations will also include the installation of a playground in one of the pocket parks. Matney said the playground’s proximity to the neighborhood is important since the closest large park with a playground is more than a mile away, which deters people from going.

“There is nothing better than hearing a child’s giggle as (he) plays outdoors or experiences planting a vegetable garden for the first time,” Matney said. “It builds confidence for them to try new things right in their own neighborhood.”

Photo: Project EverGreen

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