Budget Vote Tonight

Tonight (May 18) the City Council will approve Ann Arbor’s city budget. Amendments will be brought forward to “save” at least a few popular programs, though the scope of changes that the budget will bring will probably not be understood for months. Sadly, our city has been eliminating or degrading services for some time, while embarking on an expensive building program.

One of the programs on the chopping block is Project Grow. Actually, it will continue in some form even if the tiny $7,000 appropriation requested is cut. But this contribution by the city could make the difference between Project Grow’s ability to expand its operation and continue to enhance our community food security, at a time in our country and state when people are under great income pressure even as we recognize the fragility of our food supply. I hope that the Council will show good leadership in restoring this miniscule amount.

Here is the text of a message sent out to Project Grow supporters today.  It contains good information.

TONIGHT Monday, May 18 Sabra Briere is presenting to the Ann Arbor City Council a resolution for vote to reinstate Project Grow in the city budget for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Please give one more push on behalf of Ann Arbor’s community gardens by contacting your council member and making your voice heard. Council emails and phone numbers are on the city website.

Here are some highlights of the resolution language:

Project Grow has been serving Ann Arbor’s citizens for 35 years, giving us all the opportunity to grow our own vegetables while working collaboratively with our neighbors. Project Grow gardens are scattered across the City, and are used by people of all means and all abilities.

Project Grow routinely collaborates with the following organizations:

Avalon Housing
Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department
Food Gatherers
Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Catholic Social Services
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Leslie Science and Nature Center

The list above does not include the many organizations that either volunteer in the Project Grow gardening programs or have plots in the gardens:

Michigan Community Scholars
University of Michigan’s Industrial Designers Society
Ann Arbor YMCA
Youth Volunteer program of America
Washtenaw County Juvenile Court
University of Michigan Indian American Student
University of Michigan’s Medical Students Association
University of Michigan Project Serve
Washtenaw County Youth Mentorship Program
University of Michigan Cultivating Community
Washtenaw County MSU Master Gardener Program
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources
Washtenaw Community College/ Project Grow
Hands on the Planet
Organic Gardener Certification Program
United Asian American Medical Student Association
Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts
Eastern Michigan University’s Sigma Theta Sorority
Rehabilitation Program United Way Day of Youth Caring
University of Michigan Circle K International
Washtenaw Counties P.O.R.T
Packard Clinic

Who uses Project Grow?

In addition to all of the organizations that use Project Grow, about 500 gardeners are annual members. Many more benefit from the produce, as well. The Project Grow gardeners I know give away tomatoes, squash, beans, basil, lettuce and other produce regularly. You may have benefitted from the bounty, as well.

Project Grow equals local produce

Ann Arbor’s citizens are embracing a new ideal and building a local food system where food can be produced with a smaller carbon footprint. More and more of our neighbors are becoming more aware that it is good for us all to have access to fresh food; it’s also good to get the exercise and psychological benefits of reconnecting to nature.

Project Grow equals families working together

Our young people have been described as having a ‘nature deficit,’ and what can be more magical than working with our children to plant seeds and plants, reap the harvest, and eat what we have sown?

Project Grow gardening equals opportunity and access

Project Grow’s sliding scale allows families of all means to work in the soil; both apartment dwellers and home owners use Project Grow gardens. Additionally, Project Grow’s innovative gardens for people with disabilities have opened new possibilities in lives that previously were limited.

UPDATE: Councilmember Briere’s amendment failed, with only 5 votes (Briere, Smith, Teall, Higgins, Taylor) in favor.  Rapundalo and Anglin were absent.

Explore posts in the same categories: civic finance, Local Food, Uncategorized

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