PHOTO BY // MELISSA WILLIAMS
For 27 years, Davison resident Greg Gaines has not only been helping various gardens in the county grow, he’s been helping some pretty amazing youth to grow in many ways as well. Mr. Gaines runs Mr. Gaines’ Garden, a division of Catholic Charities. He takes many of the youth in the county under his wing and off the streets and employs them to tend various gardens throughout Flint and Burton.
They currently have six gardens and hoop houses where they grow vegetables and fruits, with the kids growing, weeding, planting, watering and otherwise tending to the gardens. Once the fruits and vegetables are grown, they are picked by the kids and taken to the Flint Farmers’ Market to sell on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Mr. Gaines has employed 2500 to 3000 kids from our area over the years. Every time I see the kids at the market they are so friendly and helpful and you can tell that they have a huge sense of pride and love for what they are doing.
Mr. Gaines was asked years ago to start and run the program, but after retiring from GM after 38 years, he thought that was it, and turned them down three times before agreeing to take on the venture.
“If you had told me 27 years ago I’d be doing this I would have told you you were crazy,” he says. “But if God has something for you, you’re going to do it whether you want to or not. Every man and woman was put on this earth for a purpose. This is my destiny.”
I asked Mr. Gaines to share with me a few of his favorite moments or stories that have touched him throughout the years. He told me about two of the kids who used to work the gardens together and are now married, and another who is now a Flint police officer.
Mr. Gaines’ Garden was brought to fruition when he won a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation. The program has had additional financial support over the years from various other organizations throughout the county. In 2015 he was presented the “Farmer of the Year” award by Michigan Food and Farming Systems.
Greg Gaines has been married to his wife Pam for 47 years and they have two children, Marcus and China, and five grandchildren. In his spare time he likes to hunt and fish but told me he sold his boat because the gardens keep him busy and he doesn’t have much extra time.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING PRODUCE FROM MR. GAINES’ GARDEN YOU CAN FIND IT AT THE FLINT FARMERS’ MARKET OUTSIDE AT THEIR BOOTH ON TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS AND SATURDAYS. THANK YOU MR. GAINES FOR YOUR AMAZING LEADERSHIP AND DEDICATION TO OUR COMMUNITY’S YOUTH. THANK YOU FOR BEING THE DIFFERENCE.