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On Lafayette, Compuware builds an urban oasis

"It's an edible landscape," says Compuware's Meg Heeres. "It's a different kind of community garden."

Originating from an idea hatched last year by Compuware founder Peter Karmanos, the downtown software company is expanding their footprint -- by going green. This August, Compuware will open the gates to Lafayette Greens, the company's first urban garden, located on the site of the former of Lafayette Building at 132-134 Lafayette Blvd., west of Campus Martius Park. Compuware is renting the lot from the City of Detroit.

"We started the process by interviewing our employees, asking if they would be involved with it. The proximity seemed to be very important to everyone," she says.

Heeres, who worked closely with a landscape architect to design the 3/4 acre oasis, says one major focus was growing food, not just flowers. "Instead of inedible things, we will grow fruits and veggies," she says. "It'll be interactive in a variety of ways." This year's harvest will be donated to Gleaner's Food Bank, though green thumb volunteers are welcome to take produce home.

As for the garden's bounty, where to begin? A team of 15 to 20 master gardeners helped plant this summer's offerings, which Heeres say include "lots of greens, lettuce, kale, cabbages, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, beans, rhubarb and a lot of perennials and flowers mixed in, some lavender, and even apples."

She hopes local residents and office-workers from nearby buildings will utilize the public space during business hours. "Being on the site, I feel like there is a lot of positive feedback," she says. And it's one more way for Compuware to encourage its employee base, which is largely suburban, to claim downtown as their own. "Our CEO thought that it was an important part of getting our employees more involved in the community where they work," Heeres says.

Source: Meg Heeres, arts curator and community arts and garden manager, Compuware Corporation
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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