Gardens on Barnes


I love gardening. When I was little I remember my dad letting me turn over a section of yard one year. We then went to the store and I was allowed to pick anything I wanted to grow. I picked bachelor buttons. And they grew! This ability to create something from almost nothing forever instilled in me a desire to garden. I have put a garden in every year for the last 15 years. When I lived on Cooper Ave. the garden would out grow its bed and travel across most of the back yard. I would often take the extra tomatoes and zucchini and pass them out to neighbors. One year we even grew pumpkins and I gave the little girl next door her very own. I love the idea of growing and sharing. The first Ignite had a speaker who shared the idea of urban gardening in the Flint area. They were taking plots that homes once sat on and turning them into community gardens. It seems this wonderful idea has taken root here in Lansing as well. As I walked along Barnes Ave. I came across two such plots. One was the St. Casimir and Moores Park community garden directly across the street from St. Casimir School. The second was on the east side of Barnes Ave. If I had not been brought to this section of street by the Lunch With a Purpose group (and before starting this project), I am sure I would never have traveled it. There’s a set of three streets; Barnes, Garden, and Isabel, that run west to east, parallel to each other. These three streets dead end into Martin which dead ends to the north into a small park and rail road tracks to the south. The isolation of this area creates a unique environment. The neighbors outside, and there were many, all talked to each other and were not shy to talk to me. One resident began chatting away almost as soon as she saw me, telling me about the great garage sale going on across the street. The house I parked in front of had a little boy playing and the adult supervising him greeted me politely. Down on Martin street I came across a house where two little girls were playing. The younger one was more than eager to explain to me that she and the other girl were wearing the same colored clothes. She then insisted that I take her picture. I was so moved by her sincerity that I plan to make a print and take it back to her. This type of community friendliness permeated the neighborhood. There is a sense here that everyone looks out for each other and Village Summit is a great example of that. When a house in the neighborhood went into foreclosure Marcus Brown and his wife, the owners of the house next door, decided to purchase it; with great hopes of turning it into a Micro Community Center. Located in the heart of this neighborhood they provide tutoring, books, computer resources, resume and job search assistance. They also have a community garden. Today I helped organize and clean inside the 100-year-old home and add compost to the garden. This is the essence of grass roots. The signs are all hand painted. It appeared that a large portion of the contents of the center were donated. While I was working in the garden I was hand delivered a large mason jar full of ice water, along with an apology for not having bottled.
Before I arrived at Village Summit I did a quick walk down W. Barnes Ave and Moores River Drive. I came across this sign:

Wise words from one of Lansing’s prominent resident and a fellow gardener.

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