By Kary Feick

kfeick@my.madonna.edu

Madonna University science students are spending their summer a little differently this year. Instead of lounging at pools and driving around with the windows down, students are giving back to the Livonia community by planting a garden.

Last week, students began working at the Historic Greenmead Garden, located on Newburgh Road between Seven and Eight Mile roads.

Madonna University, Schoolcraft College, Livonia Public Schools, and the City of Livonia received a special grant to plant and grow vegetables for the local community to enjoy. 

“We are very excited about this local garden and have the best Dietetics Department in the state to make this garden fantastic,“ said Laura Kull, professor at Madonna University and Growing Green project manager

The garden will provide educational opportunities for local students and autistic adults.

“I believe it’s the adult autistic schools who are also participating in planting seedlings,” said Stephanie Palmarchuk, a nursing major at Madonna.

From March to May, 200 third-grade Livonia Public Schools students grew seedlings in their classroom. Throughout June, students will visit the garden to plant the seedlings and work with Madonna students to learn about the garden.

“Some of the kids and the different schools in the area are growing seedlings. They are going to be coming throughout the next couple weeks and planting their seedlings,” said Palmarchuk.

“This week is all planning and working, next week they’re going to start doing all the tours.”

Currently, Madonna has two plots in which students have started planting large amounts of vegetables. Students plan to plant organic foods.

“We’re growing all sorts of things. We have a pizza garden, bean sprouts, peppers, and tomatoes,” said Palmarchuk.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program carries a major part in this process as well. Spring, summer, and fall STEM courses at Madonna will include service learning and hands on education in the garden.

STEM will help Madonna students get more involved and learn about the program. 

Madonna’s Graphic Design students developed the STEM logo for this project and it took up to 15 designs to be submitted until they settled on one. 

Volunteers are needed throughout this process and through the summer months to water, weed, maintain the garden, and answer questions when locals visit. 

“Anyone including community members, Madonna students, Schoolcraft students, Livonia Public Schools, and the city of Livonia can register to help at the garden to complete community service. There are two-hour slots at various times available,” said Olga Martinez, Service-Learning Director at Madonna University.

All produce will be donated to Focus Hope, which has four locations in Livonia and also Trinity Park, which is a subsidized housing for elderly residents. 

If you are interested in volunteering visit http://growinggreen-livonia.com/ or for more information on this outstanding gardening project contact growinggreen@madonna.edu.