Working with Engineering students from Oakland University to design, develop and install a fully automated, solar powered irrigation system using harvested rain water. The system was installed late in the 2017 garden season. 2018 season has been the first full use of the system and has allowed the garden project to become nearly self sustaining with little budget impact on the parent food pantry.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Open Hands Garden has expansion plans that include building a hoop house not to exceed a 600 sq ft foot print on the property. Since we are considered a "community garden" by zoning codes in Royal Oak, MI, it has become necessary to obtain a land use permit from the Planning Commission. This has required us to submit a site plan created and signed by a licensed architect for a Planning Commission review. Assuming the permit is granted, we then review with the Zoning Board for any required variance requests that may be necessary. Finally, we may need to pull building permits. The project is on a fast track since there are grant monies allocated for the project that may expire.
How are you working to overcome them?
Meeting with Royal Oak city officials, canvasing the surrounding neighborhood for support and inviting as many supporters as possible to an upcoming Planning Commission public hearing.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Municipal zoning and building requirements as it relates to community gardens. Also, the importance of building volunteer and community support to hopefully influence municipal decisions.