Subfacility of Heritage Park
Since 2002, from May through October thousands of pounds of vegetables have been tended and harvested by court-ordered community service workers, through a program developed by former Judge Geno Salomone of the 23rd District Court in Taylor. For 13 years, the harvested fruits and veggies have been donated to Downriver Fish and Loaves Community Pantry and other local food banks.
“The Goodwill Garden has been very successful,” said Salomone, who instituted the garden as a type of community service.
“First and foremost, it provides food to people who need it. This is a way to give back to the community. Secondly, it’s another tool for trying to teach people who have committed crimes that they need to be respectful of other people and their properties and to respect themselves. If you work in a garden and see how much time it takes to cultivate and produce, you’re there to see the end product.”
The community service workers were formerly under the supervision of Patty Donahue, Executive Director of the Taylor Conservatory, and Master Gardener Sharon Lodico.
“We call it the Goodwill Garden, because our goal was to teach and spread good will throughout the community - by growing and harvesting food for others, by creating a beautiful space within the park to look at, and by teaching respect for the land and wildlife in the garden,” said Donahue.
The community service workers plant, weed, water, and harvest the plantings, following organic growing guidelines throughout the garden.
"Community gardening is an important part of city life,” Donahue said. “Gardens are communities in themselves. Gardens bring people together on a regular basis to share ideas, food and fellowship. It is part of what ‘cultivating community' is all about. Many cities integrate community gardens with other community development strategies.”
The "Goodwill Gardens" are now under the supervision of Chief Judge Victoria Shackelford.
Want to grow your own fresh veggies? Plots are available for the public to lease as well. A 20-by-17-foot plot is $20 - 25 for the year. All plots must be harvested and cleaned up by November 1. For registration, call 888-383-4108.