In the midst of the pandemic with outdoor activities limited, gardening has offered a safe outlet for those seeking to spend their time and energy on a seasonal project. Fostering this opportunity, DNDA’s Neighborhood Team revived a community garden at McLean Commons, one of DNDA’s 7 affordable housing sites and home to 19 families. The community garden at McLean is in the back courtyard on the building’s second story, making it a prime location for plants to grow as the sun makes its path overhead. However, this garden has been underutilized by residents in the past as the condition of the beds was not ideal for new gardeners.
In Fall 2020, the garden beds were professionally weeded, and soil topped off to create a blank canvas for new growth. When it came time to start gardening the following Spring, DNDA’s Neighborhood Team planted seeds, starts, and gifted plants in the new beds. In all, residents now have access to one shade garden, one annual flower bed, two mixed perennial beds with pollinator-friendly plants, specifically planting a variety of milkweed to help the lifecycle of monarch butterflies.
This work to revitalize the garden encouraged residents to build community connections, as there are now three active gardeners who use their beds to grow both food and flowers. Of the 19 beds available, only 2 went unused and 1 is being used as compost. Nowadays, the courtyard at McLean Commons is vibrant: lined with tall, blooming plants and full of fresh, ripe vegetables. A sight to behold!
Photos below: Community garden beds at McLean Commons