Community garden, dinner have goals of strengthening a neighborhood

June 5, 2023

Mike Haveman, left, and Mic Shriver

Community garden, dinner have goals of strengthening a neighborhood

Around the County is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union,, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — An effort is underway to strengthen a sense of community in the neighborhood that surrounds Emanuel Lutheran Church, 501 E. Danaher St. On Monday, June 12, the neighborhood is invited to a free dinner and community garden planting event. The event will include dinner, garden planting, ice cream, games, and some informational booths. While it is open to anyone, the organizers are hoping that people who live within the radius of the church attend.

“This is not a church party, but a neighborhood party,” Mic Shriver, pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church and Grace Episcopalian Church said. “The church just happens to be the center point of the neighborhood, but this is not being organized by the church alone.”

One of the other organizers of the event, and of the community garden, is Mike Haveman, a sergeant with Ludington Police Department.

“I was inspired by the community garden from when I used to pick my daughter up from Foster Elementary,” Haveman said. “There is a man who lives near the school who has this great yard and great garden. I would purposely park near his house just so I could admire his yard. I would often see him out there. One day, while I was on patrol, I stopped by and introduced myself. At that point, I was no longer just a cop and he was no longer just some guy. We now knew each other, and it occurred to me that planting gardens is a way to bring a community together. It gets people outdoors and it gives people something to talk about. A community garden brings people together even more to work towards a common goal.”

Haveman said the neighborhood needs a gathering place.

“This neighborhood really took a hit when Foster closed,” Haveman said. “The playground was mostly removed from the property and kids no longer had that great space to play. We are hoping that this community garden, and this event on Monday, will be a way to help strengthen the community.”

Many organizations and people are helping with the event. Emanuel Lutheran Church is hosting the event and the garden. Radiant Church, located a block away, is providing the dinner. House of Flavors manufacturing is donating ice cream. Several others have donated plants and supplies for the garden.

The event on Monday will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. and will include the closing of Danaher Street near the church.

“The idea behind this garden is that anyone can help take care of it and anyone can come and get food from it,” Haveman said.

Shriver said some people have expressed concern about the gardens being vandalized.

“I truly believe that the people in this neighborhood will come forward and take care of these gardens. They will have a sense of ownership. I believe that they will also watch out for any issues. But, if something happens, then we will just do our best to keep them going. I think that people will end up watching out for the garden and it will a great way for neighbors to get to know each other.”

The garden will also include an educational component with recipes and gardening tips provided by Michigan State University Extension and Habitat for Humanity.

Community members will also have the opportunity to take home an outdoor flower or vegetable pot.

No reservations are required to attend the neighborhood event.

In addition to the community garden, Emanuel Lutheran Church is also hosting a Summer Safe Zone for kids to coincide with the free summer meal program that is provided by Mason County Central Schools Food Service. The meal service at the church takes place Monday through Friday, from June 12 through Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (with the exception of July 4). The Summer Safe Zone includes inside and outside adult supervision that will include crafts, games, movies, and help with the community garden.

“The Summer Safe Zone is a great opportunity for parents to have a little break,” Shriver said. “We want to encourage anyone to take advantage of these free meals and some activities. Again, this is not an evangelical event, this is just a safe place for kids.”

(See related story about summer meals in other locations).