I hadn’t planned for this day to be as busy as it was. I hadn’t been on a walk for this project in almost a month and I felt I was very much out of shape. Had I been paying attention I would have restrained myself a little. However, I have a hard time turning down a great opportunity so when I got the notice that The Land Bank and the Greater Lansing Food Bank were planning to put in raspberry bushes in a neighborhood I hadn’t walked yet, I jumped all over that. This was one of those neighborhoods that I wasn’t overly confident in walking alone. The best way for me not to be alone is to piggy back my walk with some community effort. I love urban gardens too. At 10:00 a.m. I was finding a parking spot along S. Francis on the east/south side of Lansing. When I was putting my presentation together for Capital Gains Speaker Series I realized that one of my unwritten objectives was changing the perception of Lansing by delving into it street by street. The neighborhood I walked definitely needed a perception change. This is an area labeled the “Hoe Zone”; very graphic. On the other hand I also know this neighborhood has one of the most active community centers in Lansing with the Allen Street Community Center. The hardship this area faces is multiple; many of its eastern most streets are not even in Lansing, the southern edge of the streets butt up against the 496 highway leaving many of these roads as dead ends and it sits in a flood plain. However I noticed as I walked that these unchangeable circumstances didn’t stop the people of this neighborhood or other community members from coming in and planting a change. As I walked this entire section (almost 6 miles) I came across no fewer than eight urban garden plots. The first lot I came to was at the corner of Francis and Marcus. This was the planting that got me here.
I came across a small group of dedicated volunteers, most from MSU School of Business or MSU Hillel and their community service group Tzedek with an ideology of “repairing the world”.
I watched as they robustly dug into the earth, making space for the new fruit trees they were planting. Later in the day another group would meet up around the corner to create the perfect frame work for spring raspberries to begin. Street after street I found these gardens.
Some were only a single lot.
Some like the Urbandale Farm, a garden oasis, resided on multiple lots and multiple locations.
The green thumb also seemed contagious as many residents had fantastic gardens growing in their yards.
I suppose, sometimes you pick up a nickname and it just sticks and no matter how much you try to change it, it just doesn’t go away. I’m thinking that the branding of this area as the “Hoe Zone” might be more appropriate than originally thought.
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