By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Volunteers are growing hope along with their vegetables near a local DTE Energy substation.
The yields are designed to provide much-needed fresh produce for local food pantries that help feed local families in need.
DTE employee Marc Zupmore pointed out rows of seeds planted for peas, carrots and beans at the utility company’s property north of Goddard and east of I-75, where volunteers have been working a suburban farm field for several summers. He helps local volunteers to grow food at several sites across metropolitan Detroit.
On Saturday, student volunteers from Cabrini High School planted bean seeds, which are tolerant of spring cold weather and can yield a relatively early crop of fresh produce. On Monday afternoon a smaller group of students gathered after school to plant more bean seeds.
Dave Tomczak, an Allen Park resident and senior at Cabrini, is earning volunteer hours to fulfill his service requirements for the National Honor Society. He has needs seven more to reach his benchmark of 30.
Alicia Stephenson, a freshman at Cabrini and a Melvindale resident, is earning service hours to fulfill a school wide requirement. She chose the DTE Energy Garden volunteer opportunity because she has earned just eight of the 12 service hours expected of freshmen.
“This seems cool, like a nice thing to do,” Alicia said. “And I have eight service hours and I need 12.”
Alex Smith is an eighth-grader at Allen Park Middle School. He is earning service hours for the National Junior Honor Society.
“There were sign-ups in one of our teacher’s rooms, and I just go check every week,” he said. “And this was up so I signed up for it.”
Alex works around his parents’ yard, while Alicia admitted she doesn’t do so. She is pleasantly surprised by her volunteer planting experience.
“I didn’t think it would be like this — nice,” Alicia said. “I thought it was going to be like a lot of work, but it’s not that bad.”
The beans, which will be up around the beginning of July, will be one of the first crops they can harvest.
According to Zupmore, DTE recently has received eco-friendly business awards from both Westland and Wayne County.