Community gardens and beautification projects can play a significant role in the restoration and revitalization of Flint by transforming ugly and uncared-for spaces into attractive gardens and places where neighbors and kids can meet, socialize and work together.
In January 2001, the University of Michigan School of Public Health partnered with the Flint Urban Gardening and Land Use Corporation and the Neighborhood Violence Prevention Collaborative on a Prevention Research Center-affiliated research project, ‘The Community Garden Storytelling Project of Flint’. The project was funded by the Neighborhood Violence Prevention Collaborative, the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program.
The project was guided by a 17-person Storytelling Committee, composed of community leaders, community gardeners, researchers, and neighborhood residents. The co-chairs for the Committee were Dr. Katherine Alaimo, Community Health Scholar at the UM-SPH, and Mary Alyce Stickney, president of Neighbors, a neighborhood that started a community garden in 2001.
Through an inventory of Flint community gardens and beautification project, a neighborhood survey, case studies, storytelling and photography, this project has been documented the benefits of the community gardens, determining the gardeners strengths and assessing their needs. The Committee was interested in the effects of community gardens on neighbor social relationships, neighborhood pride, beautification, neighborhood crime prevention, exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption. The project culminated in the publication of a book, “From Seeds to Stories: the Community Garden Storytelling Project of Flint.”