Full Circle Community Garden Program

Wayne State University

Student Organization: AIAS Chapter

The Wayne State University Irvin D. Reid Honors College has been engaged in the Full Circle Community Pavilion project as a Detroit based Service Learning component of the Honors College Curriculum, partnering with architecture students from University Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and several Detroit community organizations. To date, the students have been engaged in a robust curriculum to understand key issues in Detroit related to vacant land, community planning, food sovereignty, renewable energy systems and climate change.

The pavilion project has moved to the next step of student planning with selection of four sites and engagement with those groups to determine how the solar, water collection and pavilion would enhance their sites. The sites range from a totally vacant and blighted lot that will require a major volunteer effort to clean and an established community garden that will advance its mission with more food production as a benefit of the water and solar collection systems. The original budget of $25,000 allows for a clean-up and site preparation at each site and the construction of a 24x10 foot basic pavilion with a 20 watt solar collector and battery system and a 1,000 gallon water storage system at four sites.

Benefits of the $10,000 Challenge grant
As we met with community groups to plan their pavilion projects, we realize there is a lot more we can do to meet our goals. The extra challenge grant will help fund enhancements to our projects and provide more ways for residents and students to engage with the pavilion and outdoor spaces at each site. For example, at the Downtown Boxing Gym, plans may include building a larger pavilion, increasing seating to allow outdoor classroom space and community activities. Using recycled materials from Architectural Salvage warehouse we can build benches, tables and moveable furniture that will provide a fun learning environment.

Power from an expanded 50 W solar collector will provide free electricity for outdoor activities and enhance their engineering and science curriculum. Batteries storing solar power can also be used for evening events like the proposed community outdoor movie screen. While the basic pavilion is a great addition, the enhancements will help create the community centers we have envisioned.

To learn more about their project, view their original winning entry, below.

The Full Circle Community Garden Pavilion Program aids in restoring vacant lots to productive land. The four selected sites will become productive community gardens and meeting grounds in Detroit and Flint. Vacant land often lacks basic utility service lines that require capital to install and operate. The pavilions will eliminate upfront and ongoing costs by supplying water and power to the gardens through rainwater catchment systems and solar panels. The student-led pavilion creation will incorporate neighborhood input regarding art, educational signage and meeting space, giving the area a distinct neighborhood feel. Using salvage components, including reclaimed wood for flower beds and the structural support of the pavilion will keep usable materials out of landfills, reduce capital cost and support local businesses doing good work.

Water and power, basic needs for a community garden, will be sustainably supplied by a rain catchment system and solar array integrated into the pavilion, allowing the project to live in perpetuity by not requiring an identified rate payer. Empowering these communities through university partnership and deploying sustainable methods catalyzes resiliency and community building.

Project news


Give your heart and hands Nov. 29, 2016