County Farm Park:
southeast Ann Arbor's outdoor gem
"But I don't want to leave yet!" screamed the young boy cliff-hanging from his father's arms, legs flailing about in attempts to escape the hold. He's begging to return to the park, and I don't blame him.
This scene played out as I approached the country Farm Park entrance on a June morning straight out of the Pleasantville movie. All I could think was: I know how you feel, kid.
The sentiments I have towards this place are raw and real. It's a summer time utopia, where families have picnics and kids can be seen with BBQ sauce mustaches. Community gardens anchor the western portion of the park, soon to have sunflowers towering over the blossoming fruits and vegetables. Raised beds with herbs are labeled so visitors can observe their progression of growth. Do I sound like I live in a world of butterflies and snowcones? If I do, you'd be wrong, but I do live in a world were Country Farm Park exists, and that's far better.
I first came across the park on a jog. My legs were dragging and I was seeking a way to cut my route short. I normally would trek down Washtenaw until reaching Platt, then take a right turn. That just wasn't going to happen on this day, so I breathlessly said "screw it" and made a premature turn through the Country Farm Park archway. The season was fall. The trees were a kaleidoscopic of warm hues, and the weather was still warm enough to support a running creek. As the seasons changed the park only got better. When spring gave the park new life, it was hook, line, and sinker. My running tolerance took a hit....but ehh.
This place is a gem on the southeastern side of the city. To be fair, there are PLENTY of great parks around Ann Arbor. The city does an excellent job of maintaining their green spaces. I'm going to be blunt here, and tell you exactly why Country Farm Park sticks out among the rest: diversity.
I lived in this part of town for about 2 years. The people are reflected in every aspect of what makes it great. The area is a succotash of cultures where the spices blend in harmony. With that side, the restaurants in this area are also noteworthy, with eclectic flavors like Tmaz and Hut-K Chaats. But back to the park, it is not uncommon to hear multiple languages within 30 minutes of your visit. In one particular memory I overheard Feliz Cumpleanos being sung behind me, a boy asking for a snack in perfect French in front of me, and a mother wearing a hijab kissed her sleeping baby on the bench beside me. The sun was out, the park was packed, and I thought, "This is the American dream."
Plus, the amenities cannot be beat. I'm a runner, it's basically my only form of exercise, so I get what's called a "runner's butt." What is that? A pancaked toosh. It's important that I alternate exercises on occasion to keep my other muscles from feeling neglected. The trails that go throughout the park have exercise stations where you can challenge your push-up record or perform burpees until you can burpee no more.
There is also a covered eating area with picnic tables were families and friends can socialize. Finally, the playground has a fun farm-theme. Kids can crawl through a tractor or take a breather under a massive flower that looks straight out of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
I could go on, but instead I'll urge you to check out the official webpage: County Farm Park
With the warm weather just beginning, you'll know where to catch me on lazy weekend days.