Planting Seeds for Community Growth

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Hunter Park Community GardenHouse of Lansing is just one of the many community gardens cropping up new opportunities and a strong sense of community in the area. Community gardens give neighbors a chance to bond over common interests and teach each other new things.

Since its birth in 2008, the GardenHouse has been able to gain a stable set of volunteers to care for the garden, many of whom stop by even on days they are not scheduled to tend to the plants.

“I just like hanging out with the plants, it’s very relaxing,” said Lansing resident Steve Richards. Richards is a garden volunteer who stops by daily to help care for the plants, though he’s only scheduled for Mondays.

The GardenHouse was developed through the Allen Neighborhood Center and was the result of a program approach to meet food needs on the east side of Lansing. A plentiful variety of plants such as kale, spinach, beets, carrots and more can be found in the beds.

“We’re really making an impact on the community and bringing a nice group of people to the park,” said program coordinator Allison Burkholder. “Kids really like to play and figure out what the food is.”

There are currently three rows of plants being tended to in the greenhouse. One row is dedicated to growing food to sell to local businesses while the other two rows are dedicated to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Interested residents purchase a share of the crop by being a member of the CSA. As payment for their share they can work at the GardenHouse for a fixed amount of hours weekly, pay a monthly fee or contribute a little bit of both.

“We’ve been able to really harness education and interest in the community,” said Burkholder.

According to Burkholder, about 70 percent of the GardenHouse consists of growing, while the rest focuses on education and workshops. She noted that they service the 48912 area, although anyone is able to participate, and that residents are able to get a good grasp on how to grow properly in the conditions their neighborhood has to work with.

“I think all levels are really stimulated by it,” said Burkholder. “Even if they aren’t beginners and are able to share information, they get as much out of it and are coming to wrangle in more.”

One of the most popular workshops is the urban garden class.

The GardenHouse is looking to expand many of its youth and other programs in the near future. One of the projects it is working toward is creating a children’s garden outside of the greenhouse.

According to Burkholder, loft ladders will be donated at the end of the year by students who no longer need them, so children will have their own special area for growing.

“I just love teaching real beginners — people who wouldn’t otherwise garden and seeing them have their ‘aha’ moment,” said Burkholder.


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Tags: adopt a spot, after school garden club, allen neighborhood center, Allison Burkholder, community garden, community growth, community supported agriculture, gardenhouse, Hunter park, hunter park garden house, jolly grove community garden, msu extension, planting seeds, Steve Richards

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