MSUToday
Published: June 16, 2010

Urbandale Farm Project hosts ‘open farm’

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Laura DeLind Department of Anthropology and RCAH delind@msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- With a new fence, freshly maintained walkways and sprouting vegetables, Lansing's first urban farm will welcome visitors June 19 for an "open farm."

The Urbandale Farm Project is the first initiative of the Lansing Urban Farm Project, a nonprofit organization founded by Laura DeLind, senior academic specialist in the Department of Anthropology and visiting assistant professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, and Linda Anderson, professor emeritus of teacher education.

Members of the public can visit the site, which is on South Hayford Street in Lansing's east side, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be food, growing-related activities for kids and a few words from project partners, including Allen Neighborhood Center and Ingham County Land Bank.

"We have been able to do this work with the assistance of several talented AmeriCorps volunteers as well as able volunteers from MSU and the Eastside community," DeLind said. "At each work session we meet new people who see value in the project and who want to help get the farm into (rather than off) the ground. It has been a remarkable experience to watch this parcel of land take on new character."

DeLind hopes experiencing the transformation first hand will stimulate conversation about how best to use other vacant or abandoned lots in the area.

The project started in May with a half-acre vacant plot covered by brush and litter. Now, all beds, about 4,500 square feet, have been planted. Currently growing are collards, broccoli, radishes, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, chard, peppers, summer squash and zucchini. And volunteers recently planted a sunflower maze.

Urbandale residents will soon be able to buy produce, which a farmer will help cultivate.

The area is undevelopable because it sits on the city's 100-year flood plain, DeLind said, meaning it's especially subject to flooding from the Red Cedar River. As a result, many lots sit empty, houses have been razed and several properties have gone into foreclosure.

She added that Urbandale, like Lansing's east side in general, is an area where convenience stores and fast food franchises serve as the major food sources. In addition, about 30 percent of the population of Urbandale doesn't have easy access to whole, unprocessed food due to lack of transportation.

Public work sessions are being held noon-3 p.m. Saturdays and 6-8 p .m. Tuesdays throughout the summer.

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Click to enlarge

A lot on Lansing's Urbandale neighborhood awaits cleanup before being turned into the city's first urban farm. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

A lot on Lansing's Urbandale neighborhood awaits cleanup before being turned into the city's first urban farm. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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