Ypsi Township resident leads efforts to plant native wildflower garden at Sugarbrook Park
As part of her mission to attract more residents to parks in Ypsilanti Township, Tajalli Hodge led a group of volunteers to plant a native wildflower garden in Sugarbrook Park last Saturday.
Hodge became Ypsilanti Township Park Commissioner to help develop parks in the area. But after coming up with the idea to renovate the park in her neighborhood, Sugarbrook, in 2019, she realized she could do it all on her own.
“Most of the park is not in use, so I was like, ‘Why not have a garden, put flowers here, some color and help get people to come to the park?’ Hodge explains.
After getting approval from the Ypsilanti Township Parks Department, Hodge began planning the project. She received a grant of $ 2,500 from mParks, a $ 1,000 mini sponsorship grant from the Washtenaw County Water Resources Office, and a $ 4,500 grant from Ann Arbor Area Real Estate Council. The Office of Water Resources helped determine the best location for the garden on the park’s five acres. The Parks Department helped prepare the ground and collect the plants.
The garden is made up of perennials native to Michigan that attract butterflies and pollinators. Some plants include wild onions, milkweed, meadow drops, and purple coneflowers. They don’t require fertilizers, chemicals, or a lot of maintenance. Plants are also excellent water absorbers, which will help prevent some of the flooding that occurs in the park.
Community support for the project has been overwhelming. Hodge created a Sugarbrook Facebook page during the pandemic which has accumulated more than 200 members. About 50 volunteers were eager to join her in planting the garden, and some community members lent gardening tools to the project.
“Everyone has really supported these projects and done things to liven up the park because everyone wants to see more things here,” Hodge said.
In the future, she wants to add benches around the garden and have a mural painted on the wall that delimits part of the park. Hodge also considered adding a well to the area for a more stable water source. She hopes this will spark a future community garden of herbs, fruits and vegetables. She also plans to install educational signage so that children can visit the garden and learn more about the plants. Hodge is also interested in doing similar work in other township parks.
“Anyone can do something like this,” Hodge says. “If someone wants to build a garden in a park, or even in their backyard, there are resources to help them. They don’t have to be anything special. They don’t have to pay themselves. They can partner with agencies and grants like I did.
Maria Patton has always been a resident of Ypsilanti. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan studying for a BA in Communication and Media. You can find more of his work in Michigan Daily, where she is a columnist for the Michigan in color section. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Photos by Irreverent Media, LLC.