By Jessica Mathews /

The Village of Pinckney is one of ten finalists in a pitch competition called "Put Your Town on the Map".

The competition is sponsored by Consumer's Energy and required a short "pitch" of a project that would "create momentum that builds a stronger sense of community".

Village President Rebecca Foster said she had been researching community gardens in other municipalities, and at the same time, interest in a community garden popped up on various social media forums, so everything sort of aligned. A core group of Village residents, as well as Putnam and Hamburg Township community members, held a brain-storming session that resulted in a proposal to utilize the DDA-owned vacant lot at 135 West Main Street.

Foster said it’s been vacant for decades and a proposal was submitted based on the ideas generated - 16 raised garden beds fronting the lot along Main Street, along with a few wheelchair-accessible raised beds. Foster said she had zero expectations of getting to the final round and decided to approach the DDA for support and possible funding.

The proposal fit with the DDA's mission to beautify the district and attract activity and business, and the board unanimously voted to allow the use of the lot and support the project with up to $10,000 from their New Initiatives Fund. That amount can be adjusted if the project is awarded any funds from the Consumer's competition, or can be used to expand the project. Foster said everyone is very excited about the idea and the competition. Details on applications, fees, water access and rules are being worked out by the group.

Award amounts are $25,000 for 1st place, $15,000 for 2nd and $10,000 for 3rd place.

Winners will be announced at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan's Small Town and Rural Development Conference on April 14th.

Concept drawing by Vonn Weisenberger, Brooklyn NY.