[Click on thumbnail to start slide show.]
Logo design by Paolo Pedini
Article by Jeanne Lesinski

Grow Saginaw Community Garden Project (G.S.C.G.P.) is a grassroots organization that aims to reclaim vacant lots throughout Saginaw, combat blight, and restore both pride and a sense of community among its residents. Quickly gaining momentum, G.S.C.G.P. has accomplished  many of its goals already and is busy establishing a tight network of like-minded individuals and organizations.

Working closely with Hidden Harvest, a non-profit charity that donates food to soup kitchens and food pantries, G.S.C.G.P. is striving for collaboration with, and consolidation of, the similar ambitions and initiatives of other organizations, such as S.C.R.A.P., Houghton Jones Neighborhood Association, Saginaw Community Foundation, and The Chamber of Commerce, as well as with educators from both Delta College and SVSU. “This is no small undertaking,” stated Padraic Ingle, the group’s founder, “but we are enthusiastic and full of good intent.”

A major catalyst of their motivation was the senseless December 2nd murder of Saginaw resident, Sean Stennett,  a peaceful and loving individual who is fondly remembered as always having a smile on his face. “He is gone but not forgotten. His light shines brightly,” added Ingle.

A Zen meditation garden to be called "Sean Zen" and dedicated to his memory will grace the City of Saginaw as an ever-present reminder of just who and what the city, and the world, has lost in the death of this bright young man with such broad intellectual capacity and potential. “We cannot allow his death in vain," said Ingle, shaking his head. “It’s simply not an option.”

Michael Stennett, Sean's father, agrees that the garden is a fitting memorial: "Sean was the most Zen person I know, and he would really enjoy the gardening and community coming together."  According to Stennett, one reason that his son liked to work at the Red Eye coffee shop in Old Town Saginaw was to "help people, give them a word of encouragement."  He added, "Sean seemed to be pretty good at it. He'd planned on going into social work of some kind."

G.S.C.G.P. will begin work on chosen garden sites as of May 1st  to prepare for planting. These planting dates will coincide with a major fundraising event called "A Day in the Garden," set for mid-May at one of  the gardens yet to be determined.  The "Day in the Garden" benefit will be complete with live musical entertainment from three well-known local bands, Sprout, The Holy Gun, and John Vasquez & and the Bearinger Boys; a grilled chicken dinner by Sachin Ramani; and a 50/50 raffle. Specific details will be announced soon.

In the meantime, the group seeks sponsorship support in an interesting way. “Beginning on Monday April 25th, we will be holding an open auction on Ebay for the positions of ‘Main’ and ‘Secondary Sponsorship’ entitlements," said Ingle.  “The auction will last for ten days, and the option to ‘Buy It Now’ will exist for the most savvy  business owners.” He added, “This is a great opportunity to present your business to the public eye in a positive light.” Interested parties may receive advance information by contacting Grow Saginaw through its Facebook page, where the auction information will be posted on Monday morning.

Waxing poetic, Ingle proclaimed, “Come one, come all, and gather in the garden. It will prove to be a memorable day,  full of good times with good people—and all for an unquestionably good cause!”

© Jeanne Lesinski, 2011