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Brighton Business Owner Big Help in Starting Community Garden

The co-owner of Brighton NC Machine facilitated a 10-year lease for the Brighton Community Garden for just a dollar per year.

Jack Clausnitzer, co-owner of , doesn't think he did anything special by arranging a 10-year land lease to build a community garden on the property next to his company.

But that 10-year lease costs only $1 per year. And that garden — along with other community gardens in Livingston County — brought in more than 11,000 pounds of food to Gleaners Food Bank to be distributed to families in need. With one pound of food equating one meal, that's more than 11,000 meals to which the Brighton Community Garden contributed.

According to the Livingston County Hunger Council, there are 10,000 people in the county who live in poverty, and almost 24,000 people can be described as being “food insecure."

"He is very modest, very private, and very humble," Simmons said of Clausnitzer. "My gut feeling is he is doing this because he has the land just sitting there, and this costs him very little to give back this way. And it is just what you do to take care of your community."

Today, Clausnitzer is being recognized as the Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day. He is just one of many amazing people who have made a difference in their communities.

Clausnitzer immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1953. He said he first got involved with the Livingston County Hunger Council when he attended a meeting with his wife.

"We were infected by the enthusiasm," Clausnitzer said. "The idea of having a community garden has been attractive to me for some time. I have thought many times we should have something like that here for our employees, but I never dared to tackle that because I foresaw too many complexities."

Now, with the garden on company property, Clausnitzer gets his wish. Brighton NC Machine employees can reserve areas of the garden but then must contribute two hours a week to working there as well.

Brighton NC Machines owns 19 acres of land where the company building sits at 7300 Whitmore Lake Rd. Currently, the Brighton Community Garden uses a little less than two acres of land. Clausnitzer said he is not opposed to using more of his land to expand the garden if those two acres fill up.

"We are living in an area in the world where we have very good soil," he said. "We have water available, and our climate lets us grow very good food. And we have a bunch of hungry people. If the soil is not used, we're a bunch of idiots."

Not only does Brighton NC Machine lease the land for the Brighton Community Garden, but it also pays the water bill. Simmons said they couldn't be successful without the help.

"We couldn't do it without them," Simmons said. "They pay for all of the water; we bought the irrigation supplies, but they pay for the water. And we could not do it without irrigation, especially this year with how hot and dry it's been.

"The thing is, with Livingston County, there's lots of land," Simmons said. "It's not like you're in Detroit. It's a partnership with Brighton NC that has made it so invaluable. They support us in so many different ways. They're big partners with Gleaners as well, and he (Clausnitzer) is committed to doing what needs to be done."

Coral Adas December 28, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Thank you to everyone who is helping make this community garden such a success for the people in our county. Members of the Brighton Garden Club volunteered there last year and look forward to working with Kay Simmons again in the new year. Thank you, Mr. Clausnitzer, for all these opportunities to make a difference.
Linda Parr December 28, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I think this is a great idea! I was wondering if anyone has thought of operating the way they do in larger cities, renting some plots in this garden to members of the community that don't have growing space? Or allowing people to plant in exchange for garden upkeep. This could generate additional funds for Gleaner's and a great deal of buzz in Brighton and the surrounding areas!
Stephenie Koehn January 25, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Our property is wooded and there is no sunny spot for a garden. I would be more than happy to rent a plot, if this were possible. You are right, Linda, that this could generate more money for Gleaners'. I'd be happy, too, to work off some of my rent by helping plant/maintain the community area of the garden. Wish this story had included Ms. Simmon's first name!

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